Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Barb's Race 2014 - Race Report

I don't even know where to start with this race report. I have so many thoughts and so many emotions...first off, I want to start off with my "thank you's"

First and foremost, I would like to thank God for giving me the desire and the ability to compete in endurance events. Sometimes I think that racing seems frivolous in light of all the things going on in the world but then I remember this quote and figure I must have been given this "longing" for a reason...

"The Creator has not given you a longing to do that which you have no ability to do."
Orison Swett Marden

Next, of course, I would like to thank the love of my life, or as everyone has come to know him...Hot Stuff. If it wasn't for him, I don't know that I would be racing. From sitting with me through my very first triathlon class almost two years ago, to waiting around hour after hour for me to finish a race, he has been there every step of the way. On top of that, he has survived my race week "crazies" (although I think I was much better this year) and my never ending list of triathlon "needs". Thank you, honey!!

I love this guy!

I would also like to thank all of my teammates and my coach at Lodi Masters Triathletes. You have no idea how much all of you mean to me and how much I get from having such a team of people to work out with. The positive attitudes in the pool keep me coming back even though I would rather be doing anything other than swimming. The words of encouragement are priceless. I would like to give a special thank you to my riding partners over the last year. If I didn't have the "fast guys" to chase every weekend, I know I wouldn't be as strong on the bike.

I love these crazy people!

Last but not least, I want to thank everyone that made a donation in my name so I could compete in Barb's Race...Kim & Chris, Dawn, Trisha, Lindsey & Max, Mike, and Paul (I apologize if I forgot anyone, but I was going off the Barb's Race list). It means more than I can say. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!


The plan for Friday was to get up, pack the rest of the stuff I needed for the weekend, take the dogs to the kennel, come home and pick up the bikes and gear, leave town by 10am and make it to Windsor High School in time for the 12:30 mandatory pre-race meeting. The wheels came off the cart on the way to the kennel.

Apparently I was not the only one who was a little nervous about the weekend. On the way to the kennel, Buster got a little too worked up and had an accident (No. 2) in the back seat of the truck. The two dogs, in their attempt to get away from the crime scene, trampled it and drug their leashes through it...over and over until I realized the disaster right behind my back. HS was pissed. I grabbed the leashes (a clean part) and tried to hold the dogs off to the side of the mess until we got to the kennel.

After we dropped off the dogs and returned home, I had to steam clean the carpet in the back of the truck. I made quick work of the task and we still managed to hit the road around 10am. A quick stop at KFC for HS (not me) and we were on I-5. 

Traffic over to Windsor was horrible! Once we exited 80 for 12 west, things just seemed to crawl. My hopes of making 12:30 were starting to seem doubtful. I then got a text from BFF saying that they were stuck in traffic in Oakland and weren't going to make it for the 12:30 meeting. Ugh. As we neared Windsor, HS remarked that he didn't think I was going to make it. I said "Just drop me off in front of the school and I will go to the meeting and meet you afterwards". 

After a run around the fenced off transition area, I made it to the meeting. Three women in front of me were debating whether or not to go in when the guy at the door announced, if you don't go in by the time the video starts, you have to wait until the next meeting. I charged ahead. I'm pretty sure it was the same video from last year but it wasn't nearly as scary. HS met me outside afterwards and we walked over to registration with Nancy.

After I got my race packet, I set up my transition area. This year I remembered a towel. I folded it so it was narrow but took up my entire section of the bike rack. Some ladies to the right of me seemed confused by the "only 8 bikes per rack" rule and were setting their stuff directly behind people that had already set up their stuff.

"You can't do that", I informed one woman. She just looked at me and said "But we will do our bikes going opposite ways." I then added "There are only supposed to be 8 per rack. The athlete guide says only 8 pairs of shoes per rack." After she finished counting the shoes, she picked up her stuff, said something to her friend (who was setting up next to her, also directly behind someone else) and left.

I staked my claim next to somebody's frog
I became concerned that someone was going to try and squeeze into my area. I told HS I wanted to hang around and see BFF and Jordan after they got done with Jordan's mandatory meeting. I then explained that I wanted to go back and check my stuff...again. I know he thought I was nuts, but I'm glad I did. My teammate Nancy ended up having her stuff moved by some inconsiderate person and as a result she spent 10 minutes in transition trying to find it!

Anyway, I waited for Jordan to get her race packet and helped her get set up next to Lindsey's stuff. We gave our stuff one last look and left.

I just want to mention how impressed I am with my daughter, Lindsey. I thought I had a tough day, but it was nothing in comparison to hers. Friday was her first day at a new job...teaching 3rd grade no less. I think we all know how stressful ANY first day of work can be but can you imagine, starting a job, having your husband pick you up and drive you (over 2 hours) through increasingly worsening traffic over to a mandatory meeting (the last one of the day) for a race that is intimidating for seasoned athletes? Nope, neither can I. Very impressive Lindsey! Good job!
Race Day Morning

After a fairly restless night's sleep, I got up at 5am to Eminem's "Lose Yourself". I fixed eggs on toast (actually it was a bagel) with lots of butter, and chia seeds sprinkled on top (trying to add some calories). I also had a cup of coffee and some water to wash down my first dose of Sport Legs. Unfortunately, my nerves had my stomach wrapped up in knots, so getting the food in proved to be difficult and I only managed to eat about 2/3 of it. I figured I got in about 300 calories.

FUEL NOTE: A full Noah's sesame bagel is 270 calories so I probably got about 120 calories from what I ate. Two eggs would have been 140, but I probably only got 100. My saving grace was probably the butter and chia seeds. One tbsp of butter is 100 calories.

Those are chia seeds, not pepper

Beautiful surroundings
I decided to fill the Fuelselage on my bike with the Gatorade "Endurance" that came in our goody bag. I poured it in, and it seemed OK, but I thought it should have filled faster. I grabbed the drinking tube and drank about 20 oz. of Gatorade and pulled out the bladder. I then reset the bladder and filled it up again. Something still didn't seem right, but I couldn't drink anymore Gatorade, so I started drinking it and spitting it back into the bottle.

HS came into the room and said "I wouldn't do that if I were you." "Do what?" I asked. "Fill your bottle up with stuff you just spit out" he replied. GROSS! I informed him that I wasn't planning on doing that and that I was just going to use water and Hammer tablets instead.

Comfy bed
Anyway, the third time was a charm and the bladder slid in and filled quickly. I stuffed a GU packet in the FuelCell and finished getting myself ready. This year we had rented a "cabin" in Guerneville, so we had a very short drive to the race start. After everyone was ready, we loaded the bikes in the back of the truck and headed to the river around 7am.

HS and Max dropped us off as close as they could get us to the start of the race. Lindsey and I started walking our bikes down the hill to the river when a volunteer instructed us to move over into the "athletes" lane. We crossed under some flags and proceeded down the hill. At the bottom, we walked over the timing mats (didn't have any choice as they went across the entire path) and the mats beeped as we crossed. The volunteer by the mats became upset and said we weren't supposed to be walking in that area.

We told her that the guy at the top of the hill told us to come this way and she looked up and saw several more athletes headed her way. We asked if there was a problem now that we had crossed the mat and she replied (actually she sort of barked at us) "Just go"...alrighty then...out of the hundreds of volunteers we found the grumpiest LOL

Happy, happy, happy!

Lindsey and I set up our T1 gear, got our race markings and located the rest of our group. It was all smiles! This was the last time today that we were together as a group. After a few photos, we wandered down to the river's edge to watch some of the full (or is it fool? BFF) Vineman competitors. I drank a chia fresca hoping to get another 150 calories in (I forgot my agave so it wasn't as good as normal). We returned to our T1 setups and started putting on our swim gear.


Let me start off by admitting that last year's swim time was faster. In my defense, I had decided to do things a little different this year. Last year, if the water was shallow, I ran. And when I say I ran, I mean high knee football player style...like the Heisman trophy. I ran enough to make my legs tired and the bottoms of my feet sore. This year, I knew that I would be pushing the pace on the bike and that I was facing high temps for the run. I needed to conserve my energy on the swim.

I think I'm the second from the left
I decided that I was going to take it easy and use the swim as a warm-up for the rest of the day. Since I finished 5th in my age group for the swim last year, I figured I may as well get up in the front. After the buzzer sounded, I started swimming at a nice easy pace. I stayed to the right near the trees hanging in the water. I figure I swam a good 10 minutes completely unmolested. To my left, I could see a group of purple caps swimming all over each other trying to stay near the buoys lined up down the center of the river.

The way I see it, if you are swimming in a straight line, it doesn't matter if you are near the middle or near the side...there is at least half a mile to go before the turn. I ignored the chaos and stuck to my plan. I really enjoyed the peace of just swimming along and not worrying about someone bumping me, touching my feet, or getting in my way. I guess the downside was that there was no one to draft, but honestly, there's so much starting and stopping every time someone runs into another swimmer that I don't think there's a whole lot of benefit from trying to draft in this race.

Within a few minutes I caught up with some of the swimmers in pink caps and eventually I started seeing yellow caps from the first wave. At this point, things were getting a little congested and I had moved to the center as we neared the turn buoy. The water got extremely shallow at this point, so I stood up. Although I had practiced doing the "porpoise", I didn't use it as much as I had planned. Instead, I just walked along taking in the sights and watching the competition going on around me.

Luckily, I didn't stay in "la-la" land too long. Once the water got deep enough to swim in, I dove in and started down the river towards T1.


This year, T1 went much better. Before the race (actually, before I even left Stockton), I placed each foot specific sock in the correct shoe...not going to make that mistake again :-)

Unless I was changing gear, most of my photos show me making
some sort of forward progress
Anyway, I ran out of the water to the wetsuit strippers. Within seconds I was freed from my neoprene and on my way to my bike.

Wetsuit in hand...running like I stole it ;-)

I had a pre-opened Clif Coconut Chocolate bar in my helmet waiting for me. I put it in my helmet because it forces me to deal with the food before I put my helmet on. I stuffed the Clif bar in my mouth and went about the business of switching from swimmer to cyclist.

Trying to get another 240 calories in
I crammed all of my swim gear into the transport bag and handed it over the fence to HS. Time to hit the road.

Love this pic of my bike, would have been better if I didn't
have a Clif bar hanging out of my mouth.
I ran out of transition over to the bike mount line. Once again I opted to walk my bike up the hill. Do I think I could ride up the hill out of transition? Yes. However, I have read quite a few race reports of people getting taken out by someone that decided to ride up the hill who fell. I'm not willing to take the chance of getting hurt on the bike before I'm even out on the road.

Ok, maybe it was more of a run than a
walk up the hill

I have grown to love the bike portion of triathlons. Like I said, I spent the last year chasing the "fast guys" on the team. Actually, I wasn't chasing as much as I was just trying to hang on. I hated the feeling that I was causing them to ride slower than they wanted to go, so I always did my best to keep up. I think that is why I like racing on the bike. When you are in a race, you aren't worried about slowing fast people down or feeling like a jerk because you dropped slower people. On the bike I can ride as fast as I please and I don't have to worry about anybody but myself. It's wonderful!

Did I mention that I messed up my Garmin coming out of the swim? I forgot to press the "lap" button coming out of the water. Instead, I pressed it at my bike...which made my swim distance considerably longer. Anyway, I then forgot to press the "lap" button leaving T1. I think I got down the road a mile or two until I realized my second mistake. Ugh! I pressed the button and scrolled to the screen that gave me instant speed. This would have to do.

FUEL NOTE: I couldn't finish my Clif bar, so I slipped it back into the wrapper and stuck it in my pocket...I would just eat it later.Unfortunately, when later occurred, I only got a few bites of the Clif bar before a bump in the road caused it to pop out of my grip...luckily I had another one in my bike bag. As I rode the first 18 miles, I drank almost 20 oz. of water with two Hammer Endurolytes Fizz tablets added (only 20 calories, but I will take any I can get).  I also had my GU Roctane Island Nectars. 

I passed quite a few people on the first part of the course? Was I going too fast? It didn't feel like it...so I just kept going. About 10 miles or so into the ride I opened up my Dark Speedpack mounted on my top tube and tried to dig out some Skittles and gummy bears. I failed at my first attempt and instead grabbed my next does of Sport Legs. OK, I'll take those instead.

Pain, pain, go away
Speaking of legs, my ankles started to ache early into the ride. I expected them to feel stiff because of the Achilles issues I had been dealing with, but this pain was on the outside of my ankle going up to my calf...something completely different than what I had been nursing all summer. According to the diagram, it was my Fibularis longus muscle. I don't know what it was, but it hurt. I began to consider my options in terms of the run. Would I try and soldier through the pain? Would I play it safe and pull out? At that point, I did the only thing I could think of that would help and I started praying. And every time a twinge of pain would strike, I would pray again.

Skittles Take Two

I made a second attempt at getting at my special Skittles/Gummy Bear mix. This time I managed to dig out a couple of Skittles, but that was it. It shouldn't be this hard I thought to myself. As I poked my finger in the bag again, I realized what the problem was. I had packed this bike bag before we left Stockton on Friday. The bike then sat in the truck in temps nearing 100 (I'm sure it was even hotter in the truck than it was outside). The gummy bears had melted and then cooled into a large Skittle studded mess...WAH!!! I was really looking forward to eating this!!!

Race Nutrition Aftermath:
Skittle/Gummy Bear meltdown, a clump of Kind bars and
a GU Roctane wrapper
Back to the Ride

Ok, enough about that...back to the ride. As I neared the first aid station, I emptied my SmartWater into the Fuelselage and tossed the empty bottle into the bin. I called out for a Gatorade (because I figured it would fit better in my bottle cage) and grabbed it as I went by. I made a couple of attempts to get it into my rear cage, but I just couldn't seem to do it, so I stopped the bike, loaded the bottle and took off again. No sense in crashing...and it only cost me a few seconds.

By the second aid station, the Fuelselage was nearing empty. This time I called out for a water, grabbed it, emptied as much as I could into the bike, took a swig and then tossed it in the bin by the exit. That definitely worked much better than the first aid station. In fact, the Gatorade from the first aid station remained in my back bottle cage untouched.

I nibbled on Kind bar and almonds (which was also melted together but not completely unmanageable) as I made my way through the course. Every once in a while I would look down at my Garmin to check my speed. My pace had dropped a bit and I wasn't sure if it was me or the terrain. I picked up the pace but remained conservative as I knew that Chalk Hill was coming up. Actually, Chalk Hill really isn't that bad. I think it just seems bad because it's towards the end of the bike.

I went through the third and final aid station without taking anything. I still had water in the Fuelselage and Gatorade in the bottle cage. Eventually I came to Chalk Hill and started the climb. I opened my last Clif bar and started to eat it on the way up. I finished about half of it and then put it back in the bag. I made quick work of the climb...spinning up the hill and passing competitors along the way. It felt great.

The rest of the ride was good. I saw an injured bird laying on East Shiloh road and started crying. You know you're getting tired when emotions boil over. I said a prayer for the birdie and kept going...I need to get off the bike ;-)

As I rode down Skylane Blvd. I was passed by a CHP officer on a motorcycle and then a course official. "What's up with that?" I wondered to myself. I was then passed by John Dahlz...the leader of the full Vineman race. This brought a smile to my face. Why? Because last year he passed me somewhere on Highway 128. This year he didn't pass me until I was almost done! Woo Hoo! Although I wasn't sure of my overall pace, I knew I was faster than last year. Either that or Dahlz was going really, really slow and I highly doubted that...not if he was winning :-)


I have no recollection of dismounting my bike last year and heading into T2. When I looked at the setup up this year I commented that it had changed, but everyone assured me that it was the same as last year. All I know is I ran through transition last year, so I was going to run this year.After I dismounted my bike I grabbed my now hot Gatorade, started drinking, and ran.

Nothing like a nice hot bottle of Gatorade
Still running...

I love my #BettyDesigns kit
OK, here is where things slowed down a bit. I had left a stash of Skittles & gummy bears in my bag. Guess what? This had melted even worse than the stash on my bike. Boo hoo :-( I then rummaged around a bit for my final dose of Sport Legs. It took me a bit of time to find it, but I did, and I washed it down with more hot Gatorade.

Take your time....
I slipped on my shoes, put on my hat and snapped on my race belt (not exactly sure if that is the order things actually happened, but you get the idea). This time I was correct in thinking that the course had change. The run exit seemed a bit longer as it wrapped around one of the school buildings before hitting the starting point. This time I remembered to press the "lap" button on my Garmin.


I'm not sure what time I hit the run course, but it was hot. I had felt the temps climbing on the bike, but it was considerably warmer now.

Temps maxed out at 91 around 2:25pm

I think my heat training paid off. Although it was uncomfortable, I never felt like the heat was making me sick. I checked my Garmin early on and realized I was going out much too fast for the heat, so I slowed down. At every aid station I asked for a cup of ice, sometimes I asked for two. I would dump it down my top and keep going. Actually, I walked through the aid stations, but I didn't dilly dally...I merely slowed down enough to get some fluids in (I ate two slices of peach along the way too). Before the mile one aid station, I ate a GU I was carrying on my race belt and washed it down with some cold water handed to me by a friendly volunteer.

The miles ticked by and before I knew it, I was at the first turn around. I headed back to get my lap bracelet and started looking for my teammates. As I headed down Reiman Rd. I finally saw Lindsey. Not far behind I saw Jordan. Yay! Finally seeing some familiar faces!

The trek into the school seemed to take forever. I was starting to worry that I went the wrong way and that they were going to make me go back and do it over. However, the cheers from my family and friends (that were toughing it out in the sweltering heat) assured me that I was headed in the right direction. Eventually I saw the turn around point and grabbed my purple lap bracelet...the most prized possession of the day ;-)

Purple lap bracelet for sale...one B-I-L-L-I-O-N dollars!

Back out on the course, I continued my quest to see how much ice I could put down my top. Actually, the ice served two purposes. 1) It helped keep my core temp down 2) It provided hydration between aid stations. The great thing about ice over water is that it can be more of a gradual process. Instead of trying to gulp something down every mile, I just nibble along the way. Plus, because of all the sweat its a little on the salty side...can you say "electrolytes"?  LOL

My plan for the run this year was simple. RUN! That meant no walking up the hills...and I did just that. It may have been slow, and it may eventually cost me my big toe nail, but I ran up and down every stupid hill on that course! I read that the Barb's Race run course is actually more difficult than the Vineman 70.3 course because we do a double loop over the hills where the Vineman 70.3 goes out on a relatively flatter, single loop. Anyway, the main thing is that I did what I had planned. No matter what happened, I wouldn't have any regrets this year.

As I got to mile 9, I knew I should have my final GU but I really, really didn't want it...yuck, I just didn't think I could stomach anything at that point. I started to negotiate with myself and eventually reached an agreement. I decided that I would eat the GU at the final turn and wash it down with water from the aid station a 1/4 mile down the road. It took me the full quarter mile to get the GU down but I'm glad I did.

The final three miles were tough and my right hamstring was starting to tighten up. "Come on, Tracy!" I pleaded with myself. Three miles is only about 30 minutes at this pace. You can keep going for thirty minutes. From that point forward, my race was no longer measured in miles, it was measured in minutes. At the final mile I knew I had about 10 minutes to go. You can do anything for 10 minutes, so I ran.

The spectators lining Windsor Rd. were a mental and emotional boost. Just hearing a complete stranger tell me I was "looking strong" was enough to convince me that I was. LOL As I made the last turn into the high school, the finish line seemed miles away, but my legs felt suddenly energized and light...I began running faster. I thought I heard someone behind me, but I wasn't sure (it could have been my race bib flapping in the wind). I didn't care at that point...I just ran so the whole thing could be over.

As I crossed the finish line I grabbed the tape and held it above my head! Done! And I think the clock had a 5 in the hours column :-)

Post Race

The end of the race is a bit fuzzy. I was exhausted...I felt like I had left everything on the race course. I hugged HS and wandered (stumbled) over to the water station. I sat in the shade and shed some tears. The flood of exhaustion and emotions is hard to explain, but by the time I finally sat down, I was wiped out! HS and all of my friends and family were not allowed in the athlete area, so Coach James brought me a bottle of water. Eventually I got enough energy to get up and get something to eat.

Honestly, food was the last thing on my mind, but I knew I had to eat something. I skipped the hot food and headed straight to the fruit...it was better than nothing. I also grabbed an ice cold ginger ale in hopes that it would settle my stomach a bit. I sat at the table with James and my two aqua/bike teammates, Dianna and Kathryn. It felt great to be part of a team and to sit together and bask in our accomplishments.

Enjoying the shade and my teammates

We sat for a while resting and telling war stories. Eventually, outside the fence line, HS caught my eye. He was standing there holding up one finger. I looked at him, not immediately comprehending what he was saying...then I understood. He was telling me I got first place. OMG! This got the water works started all over again. That wasn't my goal. That wasn't something I even considered a possibility. I only wanted to improve my time.

I was at once congratulated by my teammates who were probably quicker at picking up what HS was saying than I was at that point.

What is even more amazing is that the lady in second place was only two seconds behind me. I am soooo glad the course wasn't longer ;-) HS swears I was screwing around as I ran toward the finish line and almost cost myself the race. However, as I mentioned earlier, I thought I was running fast....maybe I wasn't running as fast as I thought! LOL

This is what 2 seconds looks like!

Me and Barb

The day got even better when I found out that Lindsey and Jordan also made the podium...Wine for everyone!  LOL

Final Thoughts

I joked this weekend that the best cure for the idea of doing a full iron distance race is to do a 70.3. However, after a few days to regroup, I'm seriously considering the full Vineman next year. Is there something wrong with me? Maybe. LOL

Actually, I think it was my teammates and their incredible persistence during Barb's Race that has made be seriously consider the longer race. I almost felt guilty for being done before they were...like they were the true athletes because they suffered longer than I did. I'm not sure what this "longing" is, or if I will act on it, but I have a few months to kick this idea around.

My Gear

Wetsuit - TYR Category 5 sleeveless
Goggles - TYR Special Ops 2.0

Bike - Specialized Shiv Expert
Wheels - William Cycling
Helmet - Rudy Project Wingspan
Kit - Betty Designs
Shoes - Specialized TriVent

Shoes - Brooks Pure Cadence 3
Socks - Feetures

Lessons Learned

  • Gummy bears should be reserved for cooler weather. If its hot, stick to Skittles only.
  • Plenty of time to fill and toss at the aid stations, no need to stop (but you might want to figure out how to get a bottle back in the rear cage...just in case).
  • Maybe not so slow on the swim
  • Any supplements you plan on taking should be easy to find