Monday, May 13, 2013

Angels Camp Triathlon - Race Report

Angels Camp was my third triathlon (I can't believe that it's been less than a year since I joined +James Cotta's  training group). Angels Camp was also the longest open water swim I had ever done (in a race). Luckily, I had my hubby and teammates there for support.


My favorite pre-race meal is eggs on toast.  I made sure I went grocery shopping the day before the race so I would have everything I needed for breakfast. I fixed one piece of sourdough toast with two soft boiled eggs.  In retrospect, I probably should have had two pieces of toast. I should have also eaten something other than Skittles on the car ride to the race.
James giving some last minute advice

HS and I arrived at New Melones a little after 7am.  When we were pulling into the park, I sent James a text message telling him we just left Stockton.  Unfortunately, my attempt at humor was wasted because he wasn't looking at his phone.

James and I racked our bikes and laid out all of our gear. Set up was uneventful except for when I spilled a good portion of my water trying to fill up my aero bottle. Eric arrived a little while later and positioned himself next to us. About half an hour before the race start, we headed to the water to warm up.


This race only had one mass start.  Luckily there were only about 60-70 competitors so it wasn't that crowded.  I was very proud of myself at the start as I waited a couple of seconds to let all the fast people jump out ahead. I waded out into the water and started my swim.  I focused on trying to stay relaxed and taking long strokes and staying streamlined.

Unfortunately, my plan went out the window when the lady next to me kept bumping me. I would move over a bit and she would move over and hit me with her arm.  I moved again and she moved again. This went on for a couple of minutes so I finally stopped and just let her go.

HS thought she was doing that to mess with me and that I had let her get what she wanted when I stopped to just let her go. Maybe he's right, maybe he's wrong. All I know is that my plan for the swim was to swim my race and not worry about other people.  That is very hard to do when the other person keeps running into you!!


Putting on my shoes
I had every intention of running up the boat ramp.  After I got out of the water, I slipped on my shoes and started to jog up the hill. As I passed a guy walking up the ramp he said "Good for you."  What did that mean? For some reason that really bugged me.Was he being sarcastic or was he giving me a compliment? Who knows.

Anyway, about 1/3 of the way up the ramp I said "Screw it". My legs felt like rubber after the swim and I wanted to give them a rest before I got on the bike. All I can say is that this walk to transition was nothing like "The Walk of Shame" at Ice Breaker (sorry James, just had to mention that again).

I got my helmet and shoes on quickly and mounted my bike. We were allowed to ride out of transition as soon as we cleared the end of the bike rack. As I tried to clip-in, the Velcro on one of my shoes came undone.  I stopped the bike, fixed my strap and headed off.


The bike portion of the race didn't go exactly as I had planned, but that's alright.  As I headed down Angels Creek Access Road, I passed a couple of women. Woo hoo!!! Take that fish people! I hope one of you was the chick that kept hitting me!

I passed a few more women on my way to Glory Hole Point. I felt confident on my bike and even eased up on my brakes on the down hills (some descents I even pedaled! LOL). As I made my way back towards Angels Creek Access Rd. a park ranger waved on a motorhome pulling a boat. Great! That's just what I want to follow up the hill. Fortunately, they turned off somewhere.

Eventually I arrived at the big nemesis. My first practice attempt at this hill was basically a non-attempt as I was certain that it wasn't part of the race.  The next time I tried to climb the hill (another practice run) I stopped to see where James and Eric were. However, today was race day, not practice. Today was the day to climb to the top. Today was the day to fly past people and leave them in awe. "Who was that?" they would ask. Talk about delusions of grandeur!!!  LOL  This is where things took a turn for the worse.

I started the climb and everything seemed fine. However, my legs were more fatigued than I had expected them to be (I think the swim really took it out of me). A couple of times my rear brake grabbed at the wheel and made that noise again and that was worrisome. A little more than halfway up the hill, my cadence started to really slow down. My fear of rolling backwards all the way down the hill surfaced so I stood up to pedal. I kept hearing James' voice in my head saying "Don't go anaerobic".  The bike kept moving, but my left leg turned to jelly and felt like it was going to buckle underneath me.

At this point I remembered the race director saying there was nothing wrong with walking your bike up the hill as it was only 3/4 mile long. I dismounted and pushed my bike up the rest of the steep ascent. Eventually Eric caught up with me and cajoled me back into the saddle (only one other person passed me as I was walking).  I pedaled up the next short but steep climb and was fine for the rest of the ride.


I racked my bike and immediately took off my helmet (no more running with a helmet for me!). I grabbed my water bottle and drank what was left.  "Yuck!  Nothing worse than hot water" I exclaimed. The guy next to me heard this and offered me a Gatorade out of his ice chest. At first I declined, but when he said it was "Ok" I accepted. No time for pride when it's close to 90 degrees outside and you're thirsty.  I don't know who you were, but THANK YOU SO MUCH!

I was going to grab a GU pack for the run but forgot. I did grab about 5 GU chomps. I was also going to cram a handful of Skittles into my mouth but did not want to appear childish in front of the other competitors (Everyone seemed so intense at this race). This was a big mistake on my part and I definitely need to have my nutrition planned out a little better.

Leaving T2...AGAIN!  This time with my race belt

As I started to run out of transition, I saw Rosa and heard her say "You're fifth!".  I held up five fingers and nodded.  She then said "No, you're fifth!"  At this point, I'm thinking I got it, I'm fifth. As I neared the timing table, something jogged my memory, and I realized that I forgot to put on my race belt with my number!!!

I later found out that Rosa wasn't saying "You're fifth" she was saying "Your bib!"  My darling husband was only focused on making sure I didn't run off with my helmet on again.  LOL


The run started off with a gradual ascent out of the parking lot.  At the end of the parking lot was a left turn and then a steep climb up a paved path.  I jogged up the path and then switched to a brisk walk.  At the top of the hill, things leveled out a bit and turned into a nice single track dirt trail.  Of course, it's hard to appreciate the beauty of the trail with the rattlesnake warning talk from the pre-race meeting is still in your head. I was intently listening for rattlesnake sounds.

I was alone on the trail most of the run.  I did get passed by a couple of men, but most of the time it was just me and my thoughts.  I noted the "1" on the ground and felt relieved that there were only a few more miles to go.  When I came to the "2" on the ground, I started to wonder where the aid station was.  I was extremely thirsty at this pointed and needed a drink.  I kept aid station in sight.

At this point I was worried that I had ran past the aid station.  Maybe I was lost and had gone off course somewhere.  Thankfully, I saw a flour arrow on the ground and knew I was still headed the right way. I soon came up on two other runners! Yay, finally a female to try and pass. I also finally found the aid station. Double Yay!

As I reached the aid station the volunteer handed me a cup of water and the two runners I was following veered right and kept going.  The volunteer pointed me to the left.  "How come they are going that way?" I asked.  "Because they already went that way" he answered pointing to the left.  Ugh!  He then informed me that there was only a mile and a half to go.

I took off running and came up on another runner.  He was young, probably in his 20's and was walking.  "Come on. Let's finish this. You can do it!" I said to him.  He responded "There's still a mile and a half to go".  I gave him a little more encouragement and then took off.  I was so happy when I came back around to the aid station and the volunteer pointed my to the right and said "It's all down hill from here."

There is never a more welcoming site than the finish line arch!  As I ran across the parking lot I picked up my pace...desperate to see the time on the clock.  I had gone into the race hoping to break the two hour mark.  I was thrilled to see that I was going to finish about 9 minutes faster than that!


I ended up finishing 2nd in my age group and 4th female overall.  Not bad for my third triathlon!  Especially not bad given my horrific performance at my second race!  LOL (Sorry James, I can't let it go!).  I learned a lot from this race and cannot wait to apply what I have learned.

1)  Don't let someone get in your head...whether they are bumping/hitting you in the swim or making (snarky?) comments when you decide to run up the hill to transition.

2)  Don't be ashamed to slow down and walk if it means being able to finish.  (That being said, I am kicking myself in hindsight now for walking so much).

3)  Always be willing to help a competitor in need and be willing to accept help when offered.

Enjoy the journey!