Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tri for Real #2 - Race Report


It's in pink because this part is really only for the ladies ;-)

The weeks between the World's Toughest Half and the Tri for Real #2 have been difficult for me.
I no longer know what to expect from my body. About a week before The World’s Toughest Half, my favorite aunt dropped by for her monthly visit. It was the last thing I wanted, but I was thankful that it was before the race and not during. Unfortunately, she decided that it was going to be an extended visit and stuck around for the race and many days after…something she has never done before.

This month her expected arrival date came and went. She didn’t even drop by to say “Hi”! Hmmm…she’s never done this before either. At this point I don't even long as she's not here on race day I'm happy.

On top of that issue, I have been plagued by insomnia (actually, based on what I've been reading, the lack of a monthly visit and the insomnia are related). Anyway, there was a two week period where I would wake up around 1 A.M. or 2 A. M. every night and toss and turn the rest of the night lucky to eek out a few more minutes of sleep. I felt exhausted during the day and found it hard to focus at work. Then there were nights that I would wake up drenched in sweat and other nights that I felt like I was freezing to death (maybe because I turned the air on a little too low to avoid the night sweats LOL).

About a week before the Tri for Real #2, I started sleeping through the night. In fact, I started sleeping a little too much. I would fall asleep lounging by the pool, I would fall asleep on the couch after dinner, and then somehow sleep through the night. My Garmin showed me sleeping all night on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Maybe my lack of sleep had finally caught up with me. Unfortunately, Thursday night was restless and it continued that way right up until race day.


My alarm went off around 4 A.M. on Sunday morning. Hot Stuff questioned why I was getting up so early. I explained that the race started at 7 A.M. He thought that was earlier than usual so I got on the TBF Racing website and found that the race didn't start until 8 A.M. I would have sworn that the website said 7 A.M. the day before (Dani thought she saw 7 A.M. too) but at that point I was just happy to have another hour to try and sleep. I figured that I had roughly 4-5 hours of sleep the night before and could use any extra zzz's I could get.

When my alarm went off an hour later, I got up and fixed coffee and a plate of eggs on toast. While the water for the coffee was heating up, I checked my bike one last time and made sure I had everything I needed in my tri bag. I wish I was more enthusiastic about this race, but I just wasn't feeling it. Maybe it was the lack of sleep or the fact that I may have had a little too much wine the day before (not a good move), but I was not in the mood. Actually, I think it was the lingering doubts from the World's Toughest Half that had me questioning my fitness and my racing ability.


After checking in at the registration desk, I found James and racked my bike next to his. Actually, I had started setting up next to a tree (thinking shade) before seeing James' bike. The lady next to me had stuff spread everywhere, including a chair in front of her bike and potentially my transition exit path. I was happy to move over by James because at least I knew he had some transition etiquette and wouldn't spread his stuff out in front of mine.

Look who I found!

Not sure what we are discussing

I got my stuff set up and then slipped on my running shoes (Pearl Izumi Women's E:MOTION TRI N1 v2). Coach K had noted a warmup on my calendar for the race... run 1 mile, ride 20 minutes. Typically I just use my swim as a warmup LOL. Since I know that Coach K checks my Garmin data periodically, I made sure I started my watch for the run.

When I got back from my run I found Coach K racking his bike next to mine. Crap! Now I'm going to be all stressed out because he's here. What if I have another sucky race? I walked over and said good morning. He said he saw all the pink (pink towel, pink cycling shoes, pink helmet, etc) and figured it was my bike. What can I say? :-)

I changed shoes and headed out for a 20 minute spin. When I got back, Coach K said something about being tired from training and giving myself time to warmup during the ride or something like think I would pay better attention but my mind was elsewhere. All I could think about was just getting through the race without embarrassing myself. Hey, at least he was giving me an excuse :-)


Last year I did the Tri for Real #1 in my full sleeve wetsuit. It was way, way too warm for sleeves and I regretted that decision. This year I switched back to my sleeveless. My main goal for the swim was to not be slower than last year. I also wanted to try going out a little quicker than I am comfortable with..just to get ahead of the pack.

The quick start seemed to work as planned and I found myself in a comfortable zone in terms of not having too many people touching or bumping me. After I made the first turn, I eased up because I was worried about setting off the cramp in my left foot that has plagued me for the last couple of weeks. For the most part, I was happy with the swim. I managed to beat last year's time but it wasn't a PR. I think I did a little too much breast fact, I don't know why I did any breast stroke at all other than I was taking things just a bit too easy.

Still my favorite part of the swim

I walked into transition. I wanted a moment to get settle down and get ready for the ride.  Once I was at my bike, I made quick work of stripping off my wetsuit and getting on my cycling gear. While changing, I contemplated the ride. I just wanted to have a good ride. My biggest fear that I would be significantly slower than last year. 

Leaving T1


I love the bike course at Rancho Seco. It's a rolling out and back that just begs to be hammered. Maybe that's not the best plan of attack, but it's what I always find myself doing. The only part that slows you down is the speed bumps leaving the park and coming back. This year I made an attempt to bunny hop the bumps. Most of the time I failed, but I did manage to practically clear one of the bumps...almost LOL. It felt like a victory to me.

Highway 104 seemed rougher than in the past. I'm not sure if there was a fresh chip seal on it or not, but it was not smooth. About halfway out, I closed in on a pickup pulling a small trailer full of goats. The driver did not want to go around the riders in front of his truck. As the pickup crested a hill, he basically came to a stop until the riders could get rolling again. I had no choice but to slow to a crawl hoping that he would make his move on the descent. It took him a while, but he finally got rolling  only to slow down again when he came up on more riders :-/

On the way out, I was trying to figure out which direction the wind was blowing. It sort of felt like a cross wind, but I wasn't too sure. On the way back, however, it definitely felt like a head wind. I put my head down and pedaled. One thing that concerned me was the freshly cut weeds on the side of the road. It looked like they had been mowed within the last day or so because clippings were all over the road. My first thought was "goat heads" so I did my best not to ride through the mess.


When I rolled back in to transition, HS told me that I was the first female in off the bike! I was thrilled!! He then pointed out that some lady just rolled in behind me. I hurried up and changed and headed out on the run course.

I need to learn how to do this...'s so much cooler than dismounting this way!


The run at Rancho Seco is tough...especially when it's hot. There are rolling hills, gravel roads, a paved road section and single track trail...oh, and there's not much shade. I never expect much from my run...especially after riding like a fool without a thought about pace.

Headed out on the run

As I turned off the grass on to the gravel road, the lady that rode into transition after me caught me and ran past me. She had a 54 on her leg. Runner...Just let her go...She's not in your age group...There will be others passing you.

As we neared the first aid station at mile one, I watched as she ran through it without taking anything to drink. I called out for ice and electrolytes. The ice went in my top and the electrolytes sort of made it in my mouth. I slowed to a walk to keep from spilling any more of my drink, tossed the cup, and then took off running again.

The lady with the 54 continued to move away from me. I comforted myself with my performance on the bike and reminded myself to stick to my plan which was basically keep moving forward. As we neared the second aid station, I would swear that she skipped this one too. Not me. More ice and water please. Ice down the top, water in my mouth and over my head. It was hot out, and I wanted to keep from overheating. As I ran the third mile, I dug some ice out of my top. I put a few cubes in my mouth and held a couple of pieces in each hand as I ran.

The paved section of the run is a relatively short out-and-back that gives you the chance to see who is behind you.  I was certain that as soon as I made the turn there would be a female runner right on my heels. I was surprised that I almost had to run all the way back to the gravel road before crossing another woman. I looked forward to see where 54 was...she didn't appear to be as far ahead as I remember.

As I ran through the single track section, I looked out to the lake and thought about how good it would feel to jump in and swim. I quickly re-focused my thoughts to running. The trail twists and turns and then spits you back out at the second aid station. This time, 54 got something to drink. I called out for another round of ice and water...slowing to a walk for just a bit.

As I made my way along the trail, I was certain that the 4 mile marker was missing. There was just no way I had not reached 4 miles yet. Unfortunately, I messed up the multi-sport tracking on my Garmin (pushing "stop" instead of "lap") so I couldn't rely on my Garmin giving me a correct distance.  My thoughts on distance were interrupted by the realization that 54 was now only about 25 yards in front of me.

I stuck to my pace and kept moving forward as planned. However, as I did this, I kept getting closer to 54. I wasn't sure what to do. Honestly, I don't really pass many people on the run, let alone the lead female runner.  Eventually, I made the decision to go around her. I figured this would spur her on and that she would pass me within seconds. Seconds passed and she didn't run by me...I kept moving forward.

Eventually the course takes you back past the first aid station. I called out for ice and electrolytes and waited to hear 54's voice so I could try and figure out how much further she was behind me. I couldn't really tell, but I figured that even if she ran past me now, I still had a good chance of winning my age group...something I have never done on this course. I was happy with that.

One of the male runners headed out on the course told me he thought I was in front. I was buoyed by the thought that I might actually get first overall and it quieted the voices in my head that were telling me to ease up a bit. Around mile 6 I heard footsteps...small, quick, light footsteps so I knew it wasn't a man. A female runner...the one I had seen back on the paved section ran past me. Bummer. The good news was that she had a 41 on her leg. All I needed to do was finish the last .2 miles and I would finally win my age group.


Post Race

This was the first time that I can honestly say that I have "trained through" a race. Previous races have always had some kind of matter how small. This one did not. Coach K did give me Friday off as a rest day...the first complete day off since the day after the World's Toughest Half  almost 6 weeks ago and I was grateful for it. Saturday, however, was just another training day.

I had deep concerns about doing the Tri for Real #2 in the middle of Vineman training. I was worried that if I had a poor performance it could mentally shake me and crush what was left of my confidence after the WTH. While I didn't have a PR, I came away from the race feeling great and ready for my IRONMAN race.

My favorite thing to see at a race (besides the finish line) is HS waiting for me at the finish. I think he was as thrilled about my finish as I was. He told me I did great and gave me a kiss. I went and grabbed something to drink and walked back to where he was waiting...with Coach K. Ugh...I know what this means.

Me and Coach K
Besides the warmup noted on my training calendar, Coach K had also prescribed a 4 mile run immediately after the race. I had secretly hoped he meant back at home after I had a chance to rest, but no, he meant right away. With him standing there talking to HS, there was no way to get around it. He asked me if I took in any calories after my finish. I hadn't. It's too hard to eat after a race...especially when it's hot out. I grabbed a Gatorade bottle as a compromise and started weaving my way around Rancho Seco park.

Scott doesn't seem to have a problem eating after a race
I made a couple of meandering circles through the campground...checking back with HS to see where they were in the awards process. There was no way I was going to miss this. I wanted my podium pick standing above #1 in my Pearl Izumi team kit. After about 2-1/2 miles, they were starting on the female awards and I was developing a raw spot on one of my heels due to the sand and sweat so I called it quits and pressed "stop" on my Garmin.

#triathlon #endureandenjoy #centralvalleytriathlonclub #pearlizumi #tbfracing #triforreal #USAT #hookit