Sunday, August 14, 2011

YWCA Women's Triathlon 2011 race report

I now have a triathlon under my belt and I am ready for another! Tomorrow! (No need for concern, I don't actually have another triathlon tomorrow, but I would totally do one if I did.)

Here's how it went
(Skip ahead to the last paragraph if you don't want the nitty gritty details):

I woke up at 5am, hit snooze, and then rolled out of bed five minutes later. I had my race breakfast- coffee, oatmeal, banana. I prepped all my stuff Saturday night so I didn't really have much to worry about in the morning. I checked the weather- high of 80 but not until later in the afternoon. Perfect.

I drove myself to Lake Nokomis, biked over to the transition area, pumped my tires and set up my gear in my assigned transition spot. Luckily, my transition area was easy to identify and I was there early enough to get a prime location. My gear included a small towel to place my stuff on, running shoes, tri shorts (with gummies and a mini cliff in the pockets), tank top with number pinned on, sunglasses, running hat, and water bottle. I put my number on my bike and my helmet. I headed over to get marked up: my race number (#101), my age (27), and my wave (heat 3).

From Square Lake, YWCA tri, aug 12-14 2011

I had about an hour to toodle around so I walked around the transition area and noted all the entrances and exits for the different legs of the race. I also spied on the elites and checked out their gear and transition set up. They had some cool equipment that maybe one day I will splurge for (if I get more serious about training). I drank half a cup of coffee, used the bathroom a few times, and then dropped a bag of dry clothes off at the bag drop. Unknowingly, I made a good decision bringing a colorful hippie bag. Since everyone else used the same blue backpack that they gave us at packet pickup, the volunteers were able to find my "hippie" bag in record time!

As the fog lifted off of Lake Nokomis, we lined up in our waves (I was in wave 3, mostly 25-30 year-olds). Mike's mom, Carol yelled out my name and cheered! She made it to the start! Here is a view of my heat getting ready:

From Square Lake, YWCA tri, aug 12-14 2011

Swim leg:

Ready...Go! I ran a few strides into the water and then started swimming as soon as I could. The water was a delightful temperature: 76 degrees. Wet-suit legal but very few athletes had wetsuits (even the elites). I definitely did not need it in terms of temperature.

Without planning to, I ended up staying on the outside edges of the pack, making it easy to pass people. But, this strategy also added some distance (thus slowing down my time). The swim parameters were big and orange so my only vision issue was due to the sun was reflecting brightly off the water! And we off we go!

From Square Lake, YWCA tri, aug 12-14 2011

The swim was over fast and I definitely could've gone faster/longer. I tried to stay swimming in the water as long as possible. When I started to scrape the bottom, I put my feet down and ran out to the transition area.

From Square Lake, YWCA tri, aug 12-14 2011

Transition 1: Swim to Bike

I ran on the grass to get the sand off my feet. The transition area was pretty empty at first but I took longer than I would've liked as I put on my shorts, shoes, and tank top. The tank top in particular was a total hassle. I struggled to get it over my head and in the process, I lost a safety pin for my number. (The fact that I put my helmet on first was the likely culprit). Oh well, no big deal in the grand scheme of things. I walked/jogged my bike out of the transition area because I couldn't remember if it was legal to run with the bike. This probably caused me a little extra time too.


I hopped on my bike and took off! I was so glad that I used my friend's Claire's racing bike. This baby was fast and super comfortable thanks to Grand Performance Bike Shop. They put on new gears, breaks, chain, handlebar tape, and a new seat. I was rocking and socking.

I ate the cliff bar immediately and tried to drink some water. Now this is where I ran into TOTAL ERROR! I brought along the dorkiest water bottles possible!!!! One was just a plain gatorade bottle with a screw top (Stupid! As if I know how to ride this racing bike without hands!) and the other was this funky pop top bottle from the 1990's. I went with the pop top bottle and just slowed down and swiveled when attempting to chug water from it. Lots of time lost here. Why I didn't buy two simple bike water bottles is beyond me.

The course went by quickly. I kept on the lookout for folks in my age group. When a couple of 30-35 year olds crept up on my at the end of the race, I made a break for it and passed the pack before they could block me out at the transition area.

Transition 2: Bike to Run.

This was a mighty quick transition since I didn't have to change anything except take off my helmet. One woman actually forgot to do this and ran with hers. At least, I hope that was an accident.

From Square Lake, YWCA tri, aug 12-14 2011


The hardest part of the race was shifting from biking into running. My heart rate was up and I was breathing hard. My legs also felt like bricks, as I expected. I spent the first mile focusing on my slowing heart rate, controlling my breathing, and thinking about my form. I told myself "nice and easy" and "save it for the end." At the 1 mile mark, I drank a sip of water and poured the rest on my head. I wasn't really thirsty and I only had two miles left. Not worth the time.

After the water stop, I kicked it up a gear and started to pick up my pace but still hold back a little. Then, at the 2 mile mark, I started to really bring it up a notch in order to pass the women that had kept an edge on me throughout the rest of the race. The last quarter mile was a little of showdown between myself and two other younger triathletes. We all sprinted it in to the finish line...pushing each other down the chute.

From Square Lake, YWCA tri, aug 12-14 2011

I saw Mike, Carol, and Milt immediately as headed through the flags. They were so proud! I was glad the run was done, but I recovered quickly and immediately wanted to do the whole race again!

Here are my results/paces:

place overall: 55/958


swim: 9:00, 70th place in swim

average per 100 yds: 1:48

transition 1: 2:54

bike: 49:03, 140th place in bike

rate: 19.0

transition 2: 0:54

run: 23:16, 30th place

pace: 7:30

overall time: 1:25:06

Analyzing the results is pretty interesting because I can really tell my weak spots by comparing the different legs among the athletes. Clearly, my sore spot is the bike. I felt amazing on the bike...maybe I wasn't working hard enough! My run time surprised me (I didn't wear a watch so I didn't know my pace until afterwards); running feels very different after biking so I really didn't know what I was averaging.

Full results:

Anyway, I am totally thrilled with the results, and I think triathloning just may become my newest passion!

From Square Lake, YWCA tri, aug 12-14 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bridges and brick workouts

Photo from twin cities business mag.

Yesterday night I took my new tricked up road bike (okay, road bike is used but it is now full of new tricks thanks to Grand Performance) on a 10 mile journey to Wirth Park for my trail running club. The bike ride was glorious as the heat has broken and my bum no longer hurts due to the awful men's bike seat.

Our trail workout was also a blast: 1.5 mile warm up, 9x1 minute hill repeats with abs and arm exercises between sets, and 1.5 mile cool down. I love hills. I am weird.

The bike ride home was equally delightful. My trail club coach was heading in the same direction so we biked together as she gave me tips for an upcoming triathlon (she is an ironwoman). After she broke off, I finished the ride and crossed the bike bride in the photo above. I really wanted to take a photo like this one as I was crossing the bridge but I was also dreaming about dinner at the time...But, nevertheless, the evening air was just magical and I fell in love with the Twin Cities all over again. It was about 8pm, the sun was low in the sky and there was a clear view of downtown from the top. This bike bridge must be designed by the same architect who did the freeway bridge in Milwaukee. Ah, a taste of home!

Friday, August 5, 2011

duly noted: bicycles and fresh bread

(via The Sartorialist)

The Twin Cites are apparently the top bicycling city(ies) in the United States. This label likely stems from our extensive bike trail network connecting the suburbs to urban centers, our hardcore winter riders, and our anarchist do-it-yourself-ers with bike powered pig roasts (no joke, witnessed it myself). Yet, there is something missing in our bike culture.

I feel like the nytimes article, "The Dutch Way: Bicycles and Fresh Bread," gets close to the heart of it.

Author, Russell Shorto writes, "The coexistence of different modes of travel is hard-wired into the (Dutch) culture. This in turns relates to lots of other things- such as bread. How? Cyclists can't carry six bags of groceries; bulk buying is almost nonexistent. Instead of shopping for a week, people stop at the market daily. So the need for processed loaves that will last for days is gone. A result: good bread."

Now this article continues with many good points about geography, urban planning, and social planning, but the connection between bicycles and good bread really strikes a chord with me. It's funny how something so seemingly obvious- when you bike, you must downsize your load- forces me to reflect on my choices and what I consider to be the "good life."

After living in Barcelona during college, I've since yearned for a daily baguette poking out of my knapsack. And for the cup of espresso ordered and drunk at the counter. And for the grocery bag on wheels that the old ladies tote through the city back to their flats.

Would I (could I) trade the comfort and ease of my car for my bike and other forms of transportation? And if I did, what might be some of the unexpected outcomes of this switch?