Monday, July 15, 2013

Tri for Real #2 - Race Report

I decided to do this race for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to complete 3 sanctioned USAT events
  2. I wanted to try out a few things before Barb's Race.

The Tri for Real #2 was my second race this weekend. My first race was the inaugural S.H.E. 365, a 5k fun run put on by Fleet Feet Stockton.

Pre-Race Race
LMT Ladies Pre-Race

My intent was to use S.H.E. 365 as a warm up for the Tri for Real #2. Only the top three overall finishers were going to win an award, so there was no reason for me to go out and kill myself. That all changed when HS, who was volunteering at the event, came over to tell me about a certain person that had shown up to run.

This person is not someone I regularly race against, but I have lost to her in the past. In the back of my mind I saw her as unbeatable. Once I knew she was at this race too, I immediately felt deflated.

The deflated feeling didn't last long...I wouldn't allow it. Why should I concede a race before it even starts? What is wrong with me??? I decided that I was no longer going to let who shows up to a 5k or a triathlon affect my race.

Floating on Air
Once the race started and the herd thinned a bit, I was surprised to find that there were still a lot of women out in front of me. I have learned after many 5k's that the fun runs tend to attract people that are new to running and pacing themselves.  These people tend to go out way too fast...I know because I used to do the same thing and I would be passed by this one 60-70 year old woman every time (she was my first nemesis). I stuck to my pace and picked them off one by one.

Eventually the next person to pick off was the one that HS pointed out. I continued at my pace and crept up inch by inch. About a mile and a half into the run, I was ready to over take her. I increased my speed a bit and ran past her. I slowed back to my original pace and didn't look back.

When I rounded the last corner, I kicked it up a bit to sprint to the finish. I finished 7th overall but more importantly, I overcame the negative thinking that had derailed previous races (yes, I beat the person I thought was unbeatable). This was important because the Tri for Real #2 was going to put me up against a competitor that beat me at the Tri for Real #1.


The day before the Tri for Real #2 I made a big batch of chia fresca. This concoction, which the author of "Born to Run" describes as "home-brewed Red Bull", was going into my aero bottle. The intent was to kill two birds with one stone. I was going to hydrate and get nutrition/calories at the same time. I figured a full bottle of this stuff was going to give me about 300 calories.

Since I also drank chia fresca before the first Tri for Real back in June, I decided to do the same before this race. I ate about 1/2 of an over-ripe banana, had a big class of chia fresca, and a cup of coffee. This mix is easy to digest and hasn't caused me any problems. I will definitely be bringing this to Barb's Race.


Let me start off with a quick product plug... at the Tri for Real #1, I was blinded by the sun as I rounded the first turn and swam east. The glare was so bad that I couldn't even see the next buoy. I remedied that at this race with a new pair of goggles by TYR called "Special Ops".
"Showcasing polarized embedded anti-fog lenses, the Special Ops Goggles block horizontal sun rays that bounce off the top of water, for a sustained clear and reliable swimming experience. An ideal choice for everyday training, open water swimming and triathlon use..."
These goggles were awesome. I was able to see everything and they did not fog up! What a change from the first race. Now on to my swim....

After almost a year of triathlon training I am finally feeling comfortable about the swim and I credit James with getting me to this point (Thank you Coach!!!). I cried before my first triathlon and it only had a 200y swim. For whatever reason, the swim just freaks me out. Anyway, before the start of this race, I felt more relaxed than I have ever felt. Perhaps it was just the relief of knowing that the race was wet suit legal.

This relaxed attitude about the swim was surprising since James was starting in my wave (he decided to do a relay instead of doing his aqua bike thing). I didn't want James in my wave...he's too fast and he might try and make me do something crazy like try and get out in front or go fast. Thankfully, he let me do my own thing for this race :-)

Having James in my wave actually helped take my mind off of the race. The TBF announcer put the focus on James since he was the only dude in the wave. He pointed out what a good swimmer James was and then James added fuel to the fire by letting everyone know that he was a swim coach too. At that point, all of the ladies started telling James that they were going to draft off of him. My first thought was to tell them all to back off because he was MY coach and if anyone was going to draft off of him, it was going to be me!

I decided to keep my mouth shut...I didn't want my competitors to know that my coach was in the water with me. I also didn't want a target on my back like James now had. James tried to play things down a bit with the women by telling them that he wasn't going to be that fast because he wasn't wearing a wet suit. I don't think the ladies believed him :-)

Before the first wave of men took off, there was an issue with the orange buoys. It was then announced that the only ones that had to be kept at our right were the white triangular buoys. Apparently, there was an issue with the white ones too because HS said he could see the first one moving! This may not matter much to the first wave, but when you are in the final wave that starts 20 minutes later, that means 20 minutes of the buoy moving farther away.

When my wave finally started, I worked to settle down and just swim. I soon found myself swimming next to James and felt a sense of security knowing that the coach was right there. While the volunteers in the kayaks may possibly let me drown, I was certain that James wouldn't let that happen! ha ha (Don't ask me why I still think I'm going to drown). I tried recreating the same things that got me through the Tri for Real #1 swim, but the songs weren't in my head and just didn't seem necessary.

I was breathing every stroke for a while and I did switch to breast stroke a few times to sight. I focused on doing catch-up freestyle and staying long in the water. I was amazed at how good I felt in the swim. My arms felt strong and my anxiety level was very low. (Thank you James!) During the home stretch I started kicking more to wake up my legs and tried to stay on a straight path to the finish.

Just so you can see how my swim has improved in the last month, look at the comparison between race #1 and race #2. In the first race, I was ranked 71st overall in the swim, this time I was ranked 46th. I had a much higher ranking in my swim than in my run...which most would argue is my strongest leg. How did that happen?  When did I become a swimmer?  LOL (Thank you, thank you, thank you James!)

Swim Bike Run Finish
Tri for Real #1 0:28:55 71 1:20:30 73 0:57:36 75 2:47:01
Tri for Real #2 0:27:12 46 1:20:57 73 0:55:10 67 2:43:19

Tri for Real #2 - Swim by tpengilly at Garmin Connect - Details

NOTE: I did not stop my Garmin until I was up in the transition area.


I don't know what came over me as I headed into T1. I was thrilled with my swim and for whatever reason, decided to take my time getting over to my bike. Let's just say that my transition was sooooo leisurely that Hot Stuff wondered what I was doing. After the race he asked why I was going so slow (and he never questions what I do in a race). I didn't have an answer. All I know is that I am thankful I took a little extra time to drink some Gatorade and eat 1/2 a pack of it turned out, it was going to have to last me longer than I expected.


The bike course at Rancho Seco starts off with at least 4-5 speed bumps as you work your way out of the park to the main road. I have learned not to fear the speed bumps and try not to slow down too much for them. When I hit the first speed bump, my aero bottle shifted and I could hear the Velcro that was holding the bottle tear a bit. I grabbed the front of the bottle and tried to shove it back in place.

When I went over the second bump, the bottle shifted again. I took a big swig of the chia fresca to try and reduce the weight of the bottle...hoping that this would help. I was pleased to find that the drink was still cool and the big straw of the aero bottle made drinking it easy. After the third speed bump, I took another drink just to be safe. I didn't want to drink too much in the beginning but I did want to lighten the bottle a bit more.

The final speed bump is at the guard shack at the entrance to the park. As soon as I hit this final obstacle, my aero bottle was launched off of my bike and crashed unceremoniously at my feet... shooting chia fresca all over my right foot. Crap!!!

A female competitor that I had just passed, rode up next to me to ask if that was my only water. Luckily I still had one water bottle with a 50-50 mix of Gatorade and Smart Water. This was going to have to last me the next 22+ miles.

Tri for Real #2 - Bike by tpengilly at Garmin Connect - Details


OK, I don't know how many times James has told us to find a landmark so we can find our spot in transition, I wish I would have remembered to do this. When I came in from the bike, I was lost. Don't ask me why, our spot was in the front next to a tree well (pretty easy to find). Once again, HS was wondering what the heck I was doing in transition. He said I was just standing there looking around. Apparently he yelled "You're in the front row! FRONT ROW!!!"  I'm not even sure I heard him. Thankfully I snapped out of it and found my spot.

I decided to put on socks today since I plan on wearing socks during Barb's Race. I made sure I took off my bike helmet (so I wouldn't embarrass HS) and put on the Fleet Feet visor that HS let me borrow (just to see how much cooler it is than a running hat). I had a small problem with my race belt not wanting to clip so I struggled with that a bit. Since I didn't get the nutrition I had wanted during the ride, I grabbed a bag of GU chomps and took a quick drink of Gatorade. Lastly, I stuffed a handful of ice in my top and took off for the run course.

Run (Aunt Flo's Undignified Return)

My plan for the run was to stay consistent and not walk. Mission accomplished. Now on to the horror of the run... (Men might want to stop reading NOW!)

Back at the Father's Day triathlon, I reported that Aunt Flo made a race day appearance. Well she reappeared for this race too, not that I wasn't prepared. In fact, minutes before heading down to the water to warm up, I went to the bathroom and took care of business with the thought that the race would take about 3 hours and I should be good to go for at least that long. WRONG!

TBF Racing has well stocked aid stations along the run. At the first station, I had a cup of electrolyte drink, dumped a cup of water down my back, and poured a cup of ice in my top. I felt cool and refreshed. At each aid station, I would drink the electrolytes and dump some water on myself.  About mile three or four, all of my ice had melted but I still had a strange sensation that water was running down my legs.

OMG!!! It's not water! To my shock and horror, I had blood running down my legs. For those of you brave/stupid men that have decided to read this far, let me just say that no, I had not fallen or cut myself...the blood is exactly the stuff you don't want to know about. Gross!!! LOL

Well, at this point, what the hell am I going to do? I gotta keep going and I may as well run because the longer I take the worse it's going to get. At the final two aid stations, I drank the electrolytes and poured the water on my legs instead of down my back. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I made a bee line to my transition bag to grab a necessity and head off to the bathroom.

Tri for Real #2 - Run by tpengilly at Garmin Connect - Details


Regardless of everything that happened at this race, it was still a success. I took almost four minutes off of my previous time and finished second...again. Kelly, the lady standing in the first place spot on the podium, is the same person that beat me at the Tri for Real #1 in June. However, following my experience at S.H.E. 365, I didn't get upset or feel defeated when I saw her walking around transition before the race. I like Kelly and look forward to racing her again (she only beat me by 19 seconds this time). Of course, HS pointed out that maybe if I had hustled in transition...blah, blah, blah... LOL

Besides HS, Emily, one of my LMT teammates, was there to watch the race. I cannot express how touched I was that she wanted to come out and support me. She even made some great signs. If she ever plans on coming to watch another race, I think I will make a special request for the signs...something like "Hey dummy, your bike goes here!" with a big arrow and "This is supposed to be a transition, not a vacation!"  ;-)

Love it!
Lastly, to finish of a mentally exhausting day, I realized (after we had reached Highway 99) that I did not have my wet suit, my brand new wet suit!!! OMG! I checked to see if James had the number to TBF but he didn't. I then sent TBF an email and a Facebook message. I was distraught and HS didn't think that going back to Rancho Seco was going to help...he figured that someone had taken my wet suit because we didn't see it when we collected my stuff from transition.

I must have looked pretty pathetic because Hot Stuff relented and turned the truck around. We raced back to Rancho Seco and were relieved to see the TBF staff still packing up. I walked over to the announcer's stand and was immediately asked "Are you looking for your wet suit?"  YAY!!! There it was. Let this be a lesson...put your name in your wet suit. I had just written mine in this week and I cannot tell you how glad I was that I did!

I'm still not sure how my wet suit got missed when we packed up. The only thing I can think of is the guy next to me in transition had slid my suit over and racked his bike between my bike and my wet suit (he had stuff spread all over).  Oh well, the important thing is that I have my wet suit and won't have to wear HS's wet suit for Barb's Race (he thought that was a funny joke!).

We left Rancho Seco for the second time that day and headed to Elk Grove. HS had been talking to some staff from Kinetic Cycles and wanted to stop by and see what they had in stock. Unfortunately, their tri bike selection was depleted, but they did have some bike shoes in my size. This is good news because I'm fairly certain my old pair of shoes is going to start sprouting chia any day now ;-)