Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lifetime Tri Tempe

 Back in July, the opportunity to race the Lifetime AZ tri in Tempe arose, so I grabbed it and registered for the race.  My in-laws were going down there, as Deborah wanted to race as well.  We headed to Phoenix on the Tuesday before the race (Sept. 17), and had the rest of the week for biking, swimming, running, and enjoying the hot sun in Surprise, AZ.

Deb and I got a couple of decent rides in, 80km on Wed. and 50km on Friday.  It was freakin' hot, too - almost 40C most days - so we rolled out the door at 7am for these rides.  The overnight lows were around 25-27C!  I'm generally not an early morning workout person, but there's something about being there that makes it really easy to get up at sunrise and get your workouts underway.   I think it helped that I went to bed by 10pm every night! #earlytobedearlytorise

 Sunrise - the sun comes up at about 6:20am and strangely enough I was up before that on most days! 

Another beautiful sunrise in Surprise

On Thursday we had a triathlon of sorts on tap: shop all afternoon, then a splash n dash race in Tempe!  The race started at 6pm, and consisted of a 1500m swim, then a 5k run.  Sunset right now is approximately 6:20pm, so we had the sun in our eyes the entire swim.  The swim felt incredibly long and was so hot, it was like swimming in bathwater.  I've never swam in water that warm!  However, I felt was swimming well, and I came out of the water in 2nd overall (1st female) with one dude ahead of me.  

The 'transition' area was so low-key and relaxed, with everyone just putting their bags and running shoes wherever they wanted on the grass.  No fighting for spots on transition racks required!  Onto the run: I had a strong run and felt pretty good, despite the fact that the air temperature was about 37C, and the air was so dry my throat became parched.  The sun had gone down so it was dusk and very pleasant.  About halfway, a female came charging past me like I was standing still (she ended up running about 2 minutes faster).  So I ended up 2nd female, and 3rd overall including males.  I think my swim was around 22:19 and my run 22:37.  I felt like I was running faster than that, but considering the heat, I'll take it!  The swim was definitely long.  

 Pre- Splash n Dash, with the sun still ablaze, and the oversized hot tub (aka lake) in the background

Sunday morning my alarm went off at 4:30, which is pretty darn early!  I checked the weather and it was already 28C!  The high for that day was only about 34, though, so it was considered a 'cool' day!  We grabbed some toast with peanut butter and a coffee for the road, and headed out the door by about 5:20 for the 45min drive to Tempe.  My wave (#13) was scheduled to start at 7:41, so I had plenty of time to get my transition organized and pump up the tires, etc.  All the waves were exactly 4 minutes apart. 

Swim - 23:15 (fastest amateur swim - female)
Whoa, not sure what happened there!  Ridiculously slow time for me, by about 3 minutes.  The course felt long.  It was a deep water floating start, and we weren't allowed in the water until the horn for the previous wave sounded.  It was females 39 and under in my wave.  I had a good start, and set off on the rectangular, counter-clockwise loop.  We were very fortunate that some clouds decided to cover up the sun for the entire swim, otherwise it would have been very difficult to see.  Within minutes, it became very congested as I started catching up to slower swimmers in the earlier waves, and it was like that for the rest of the swim, dodging bodies.  Perhaps that is why the swim times were slower for age groupers?  I looked at the pro swim times and they seemed to be accurate, but then again they started first and had a clear course.  Not sure how much of a difference that makes.   Anyway. 

One girl parked herself on my feet for the entire swim.  I really didn't feel like pulling someone along the whole course, so I tried several times to surge and shake her, but she was stuck onto me like a leech.  I made sure to finish and get out first as you're certainly not getting a free ride from me and then getting to the timing mat first... haha.  She got out to the mount line ahead of me but then I took off ahead of her on the bike, wanting to put some time into her.

Bike - 1:07 (3rd fastest amateur - female)
I love this course.  It was 2 technical loops, with a whole bunch of short out and back sections, turns, u-turns, and crossing a few bridges.  I was hoping to be faster (like a 1:05), but I guess all the slowing down for the u-turns and other turns slowed me down more than I thought.  I was happy to see that virtually nobody was drafting.  All the volunteers were awesome, and the course was well organized.  The course got a little crowded with all the earlier waves and having to pass some slower cyclists, but it was very safe and there were no issues.  

I rode hard, with a goal of not getting caught by any girls.  This didn't quite happen though, as halfway through the first loop some girl came blasting by me.  I tried to keep her in sight, and did so for the remainder of the loop, but she put some time on me during the 2nd loop and I didn't see her again after that.  

 So many tight corners, turns, and u-turns on this course!  I love this kind of bike course. 
 My race number kept flapping around, so I had to move it around to my front while biking.  I hate having to wear your race belt on the bike. 

Run - 46:30 (? AG placing)
Starting the run it was HOT!  There was an aid station just outside of T2 and I grabbed 2 waters and drank one and dumped one over my head.  I repeated this at every aid station for the rest of the run.  The run is 2 x 5K loops, crossing over 2 bridges in each loop.  I loved the run course!  There was one hill in it as well as some smaller hills to get up to the bridges, but nothing too crazy.  Somewhere between mile 1.5 and 2, the girl who had gotten a free ride from me in the swim went bounding by me.  She was running in a different time zone than me, so there was no hope of staying with her (she ended up running a high-39).  Before this happened, I had still been in 2nd place OA for females, so this bumped me down to 3rd.  I focused on rhythmic breathing and tried to push the pain and discomfort out of my mind.  There were definitely some (a lot of?) rough patches but I managed to press through them and maintain a consistent pace with a positive mindset.  

Once the first loop was over, I knew I only had 5K to go, which I could break down into portions with smaller goals of getting through each one.  I had no idea where anyone was behind me, so I was running scared.  Sometime around hitting the 4 mile mark, I started getting a headache, presumably from sodium depletion.  Also, I felt like I was almost going to puke.  It was a tough run!  I managed to keep up my effort and concentration, though, and was so happy getting to the end of that second bridge because you can see the finish line on your right, then you have to wrap around and run about 200m more till you hit the finishing chute.  

 Good thing the finish line is just up ahead, wasn't sure how much longer I could go

 Finishing - so happy to nearly be done!! 

Ouch!  Nearly puking... needed a minute to compose myself 

Final time - 2:19.13
Placing: 3rd Amateur Female OA (1st W30-34)

Happy to be finished!  Deb won the 50-54 age group!  BTW, those white towels were FANTASTIC!  The volunteers draped them around you after you went through the finish line, and they were soaking wet and freezing!  Awesome touch.

The nicest medals/awards I have ever seen!  Every finisher got a medal, and athletes who podiumed got a plaque with your placing/category on it.  The medals fit right into the plaque to make a giant medal!  Love it!

I was very pleased with this race for a number of reasons.  Normally, I don't perform well in the heat, but this time I was able to pull off a solid run (effort-wise, anyway - I had hoped to run a 45 but considering the heat, I am happy with a 46).  I had 3 'loose' goals for this race, which were as follows: 

-Sub 2:20 overall time - check! (even with the very slow swim, my final time was 2:19)
-Top 3 overall female placing - check!
-To maintain a solid focus/concentration and effort during the race, not give up, and push myself to my limits as far as I could.  This was the most important goal for me as it was within my control to accomplish, and I felt like I gave everything I had on the day, left everything on the course, and could not have gone any faster.  That in itself is a huge accomplishment for me.  

My preparation leading into this race was far from ideal, as about a month before the race, I had to take a few weeks off training (3 weeks off swimming, 1 week off everything else) following a minor medical issue/procedure.  Everything is fine, but there was a definite disruption to my training, so I had to adjust my expectations somewhat, which I why my goals listed above were considered 'loose' goals.  I am thrilled to have accomplished all of these goals despite a sub-par prep.  

And with that, my 2013 triathlon season is finished.  I'm happy that it's ending on a high note!  It almost didn't end here... with a podium placing at Lifetime Tri Tempe, you win an entry into the Lifetime Tri Oceanside in San Diego on Oct. 20.  Racing there isn't going to happen this year, but I am going to see if I can roll the entry over to next year, which would leave a lot more time to plan, because that would be an awesome race! 

I'm kind of glad this was my last race, as I don't really feel like biking much anymore, and I've had a solid and consistent season.  My plan now is to focus on running and strength training, and some yoga!  

Bye for now,