Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fabulous Fall Tri, Sept. 12, Ironwood, WI - 30th Time's a Charm!

I woke up Saturday, September 12, knowing that I was going to do my last triathlon of the year that day. Although I was sad to see the season go, I was happy knowing that I would have completed 15 triathlons that year, and 30 in my lifetime by the end of the day. Tom was up early that morning, too. Coincidently, the Tour da Woods mountain bike race was on the same day. It was his last race of the year, too.

With Ironwood being about three hours away, and the race beginning at 1:00, I headed out about 8:30. Driving across the UP in construction season is never fun. In fact, construction is one of the only things I dislike about living here. Two-lane highways with one lane closures lead to lots of time at a dead stop. I was starting to get concerned that I would be late. I stopped in Wakefield and realized that I had crossed time zones. I was going to be 2.5 hours early, instead of the hour and a half that I had originally planned.

I got to Gogebic Community College as the race organizers were setting up. They weren’t ready to start registration yet, so the race director gave me a quick rundown of the run and bike courses, so I went for a drive to check them out. The run was hilly, and one stretch of it was down a road under construction. That was going to be interesting. I also noticed that there was very little shade.

Just then, I got a call from Tom. His race was over, and it couldn’t have gone any better. He had won by over 2 minutes. This was very impressive, considering that all of the big, local players came out to play. As it turned out, he was a marked man from the start, and was able to hold everyone off. The other cool thing that he told me was that his bike team had swept the podium – 1, 2, 3. Go SISU!

As I drove the bike course, I was realizing that I was going to like it, and if there was any point in the race where I was going to make up some time, it was here. The course went through some residential areas before it hit a smooth, shaded, hilly road that headed out of town. Since the course was an out-and-back, most of the bike would be on that road. I was pumped.

I headed back to the registration area and paid my race fee. I was sad to find out that they didn’t have any more race shirts in my size. The race director said she was going to order some more, and that she would make sure that I got one. I set up my transition area, which was just in a grassy area in front of the college. I found a pole to lean my bike up on, and laid everything out. I got my body marked, and then went to check out the pool area. I would need to do 10 laps. Seemed easy enough, although I was curious to see how I would perform with the swim being last instead of first.

I decided to warm up, so I put on my IPod and headed out for a short run. Then, I came back, and took my bike out for a short spin. Before long, we were lining up at the start line and singing the national anthem. After a pre-course meeting, we were ready to go.

A mass start, 45 us of started to run. It was hot, and there was no place to hide. There were also no water stations on the run. I’m not sure why, but at least one would have been nice. When I entered into T1, I knew that I had a lot of ground to make up. I wasn’t happy with my run performance, and I knew that I was towards the back of the pack. I got onto my bike and thought, “Well, I don’t need my legs after this, so I just need to give er,” and that’s what I did. One by one, I started to pick of each girl in front of me. Since the course was an out-and-back, I was able to easily tell where my competition was. I was feeling really good, when I had the girl in second place in my sights. She kept looking behind her, knowing I was coming up fast. We made the turn back into the residential neighborhoods, and I was right on her tail. She kind of cut me off on the turn, so the first chance I got, I got out of the saddle and pounded the pedals past her. With about a mile left, I started to feel some cramps starting in my calves. I realized that I was going to really have to rely on my upper body strength in the pool. I pulled into T2 right behind the woman in first. I frantically ran into the pool area asking which lane I was supposed to go to, and a volunteer pointed me in the right direction. I started swimming, and was surprised at how tired I was, and how hard each stroke was. My calves still hurt, but by the third lap, they started to feel better, and by lap 8, I was using my legs to kick.

Pool swims are difficult in a race because you never know where your competition is. I finished my 10th lap, and climbed out of the pool, ran back outside and across the finish line. What a rush. After I crossed, I had to ask if I had won.

I went back to my car to get a towel, and saw that Tom had been texting me, wanted to know how I did. I texted him back, “I WON!”

Thinking about it today, I still get emotional. I started calling my friends and family. I called Michelle, and when I told her that I won, she thought I meant that I won my age group. I had to correct her and tell her that I had an overall win.

What a day. Tom wins in the morning, and I win in the afternoon. I’d be lying if I said that his win wasn’t motivation for me. That day was a culmination for both of us. Three years ago, we started pretty much at ground zero, literally worked our tails off, and became champions on the same day.

As it turns out, it was the bike that saved me. The girl who took second out ran me and out swam me, but I had such a big lead over her on the bike that I still won by three minutes.

My Final time was 1:27:09

Run (5K): 32:40
T1 and Bike (12 miles): 41:56
T2 and swim (500 yds): 12:33

Up next: TBD- Maybe the Green Bay Duathlon

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grand Marais Triathlon - September 6: Cadence is a Virtue

The Grand Marais triathlon will always hold a special place in my heart. I had done it for the first time in 2007. It was only the 5th triathlon that I had ever done. I had just come off of the Curtis Triathlon that year, which was the worst race that I had ever had. I think I had a feeling of redemption after finishing Grand Marais. I had felt like I was back, even though it was the last race of 2007.

This year, I was in serious debate as to whether or not I was going to do it. The Fat Tire Festival was going on in Copper Harbor the same weekend. Tom and a good chunk of my friends were going to be there for the race, and the best party of the year afterwards. Plus, Tom had the potential to finish quite well, maybe win, and I hadn’t been to a mountain bike race where he finished really well yet this year. I knew I would be kicking myself if I missed Grand Marais, and with the weather forecast looking like the best weather, I decided that I couldn’t miss it.

With the race not starting until 1:30 in the afternoon, I was able to sleep in a little bit. I still needed to leave a little early, though. I had to register, and the drive is a little over an hour and a half. I arrived in Grand Marais a few hours before the start of the race. I got registered and setup my transition area. I ran into a few people that I know – Deb Laurie and Julie Johanningmeier, a woman from downstate that I had met at the Curtis Triathlon. I headed down to the beach to check out the water. It was cold, but doable. I decided that a wetsuit was a must, though. After, since I still had some time to kill, I decided to get in a good warm up. I hopped on my bike and went for an easy spin. On my way back, I shifted into my small chain ring, and like the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon, my chain fell off. I fixed it, but realized that I might have to do without my small ring during the race. That could be a problem since the bike course consisted of 350 feet of climbing, and I for sure wanted to use it. I would have to risk it and see how it goes. Once I racked my bike, I put my IPod on my arm and went for an easy run. It felt really good. I came back to transition and started to get ready. I borrowed some Pam spray from Deb and put on my wetsuit. I grabbed my swim cap and goggles, and started my walk down the beach to the start.

The race was to start in waves. The women were to go first. I always feel like the men should go first because generally, they are faster. They’ll either climb over you in the water or zip by on the bike. I got into the water to warm up, but pretty soon we were lining up on the beach. Without a countdown, the gun sounded. Yikes! We were off. The swim is short and shallow. It probably didn’t get over five feet deep. Much to my surprise, though, everyone around me was swimming! I did, though, get hit pretty hard in the face – so hard that it knocked my goggles. I temporarily stopped to fix them and kept going. As I was coming out of the water, I noticed Jennifer Baldwin, who is probably the best swimmer in the UP at triathlons, wasn’t that far ahead of me. In fact, there were only 5 girls ahead of me. I was out of the water, across the beach, and up the stairs to transition before I heard the gun for the men’s race. I knew I had 5 minutes or so before I would get passed.

I quickly changed out of my wetsuit and headed out onto the bike. I heart was beating so fast that it was hard to get down, and in this race, you start with a climb out of Grand Marais. Eventually, I calmed down and fell into my groove. I started in my big chain ring, but it wasn’t long before I knew I needed to down shift. I didn’t and struggled through a big climb. It was there that I got passed by Julie. I realized that trying to climb in my big ring wasn’t going to be an option. On the next hill, I slowly downshifted, and it worked. Whew! After the turn-around, the rest of the way back is mostly downhill, so I was able to go pretty fast for the rest of the way without a ton of effort. I headed into T2 and out on the run.

I looked at my watch. I was out on the run in 53 minutes. I knew that I would beat last year’s time, barring any serious complications or cramps. The run is really flat, but there’s no shade. It was really sunny with no wind. By the time I reached the turn-around, I wanted nothing more than a breeze that I knew wasn’t coming. I grabbed 2 cups of water and kept going. I felt better, and got some shade on that side of the road. At one point, a guy ran up behind me and said “Are you the girl that’s going a bunch of triathlons?” I asked him how he knew and he said, “Word gets around. Deb from the Sports Rack told me.” I told him to check out my website and he passed me. That was a cool moment that gave me some extra motivation. I had a negative split, and felt strong as I crossed the finish line. I was seven minutes faster than last year, and almost 20 minutes faster than the first year I did the Grand Marais Triathlon. Needless to say, it was a good day!

After the race, I headed home to Marquette, quickly showered, and headed up to Copper Harbor for the Fat Tire Fest. I had missed the race (Tom took 5th place, BTW) but didn't want to miss the party!

My final time was: 1:24:22. There was no chip timing, so my spits are based on my watch:

Swim (300 yds) and T1: 7:22
Bike (14 miles) and T2: 46:00
Run (3 miles): 31:00

Up Next: The Fabulous Fall Tri in Ironwood, MI – The last triathlon of the year

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Manitowoc/Two Rivers YMCA triathlon - August 23: The coldest swim of the year!

I have to be honest. On Friday, August 22, when I looked at the weather for Saturday, I had zero desire to drive down to Manitowoc to do another race in what appeared to be less than ideal conditions. 50’s with a chance of rain – why was I doing this? The only thing that kept me going (besides the fact that I had already paid the registration fee) was that Tom was coming with me, and we were going to spend some time with our friends in Green Bay and Kewaunee. Still, with the thought of racing in the cold and rain getting less appealing by the minute, we got packed up and started driving before I had the chance to really change my mind.

We made a few stops along the way – once for dinner, another for some pasties for our friends, and another for race day food. We made it to our friends’ James and Lindsey’s house just in time to see their son open his 1st birthday presents. I didn’t stay up too much after that. I wanted to get a good night’s sleep. Tom stayed up pretty late, but being a trooper, he got up with me in the morning to head down to the race, which was about an hour away.

With the air temperature not quite 60 degrees, we pulled into the Manitowoc/Two Rivers YMCA parking lot. I got my race packet and chip. They didn’t have any small shirts left, so they took my name and address to send me one. That reminds me, though, I still don’t have it. I’ll have to check into it. Anyway, as I was setting up transition, I ran into Tracy, who was one of my tri camp friends. I joked with her that she could win; she ws having a great season, winning an Olympic distance a few weeks back. He had heard rumors of really cold water for the swim, like 55 degrees. Yikes. When we got down to the water, we discovered that it was true, and they had actually shortened the swim by a few hundred yards. She was lucky; she was in wave one and could get the swim over with faster. I was in wave 6. I had a long time to wait.

Once the race started, it didn’t seem like I had to wait long. It never does, though. The water was so cold, that I attempted to put my face in, but decided that was a bad idea. There were lots of volunteers in the water. Every one of them asked me how I was. I told them that it was them I was worried about, not me. I was going to be in the water for about 5 minutes, they had to be in for at least a half hour. As I headed out of the water, I felt warm. The air was warmer than the water, even though it was only 60 degrees. I ran up to transition and started to change into my bike. Where was my helmet? Not there! Too much talking during setup and not enough paying attention led me to leave my helmet in my race bag, which was now back at the car. Good thing it wasn’t parked far away and I didn’t have to cross any timing mats, or I would have had to DNF. It did cost me about a minute and a half, though. Out of all of my races, that was by far my biggest screw up. I was so mad when I got out on the bike, but it probably did me some good. I had a pretty decent day on the bike, considering that it was hillier than I expected, and incredibly windy. I did have some nice tail winds on the way back though. I was always reminded that I was in Wisconsin, though. We passed quite a few farms, and smelled them, too.

After a quick T2, I was out on the run. The run course was nice; it was an out-and-back on a paved path along the lake. Tom was riding his bike around while I was running, and he gave me a virtual fist bump near the start. I felt pretty good, and was able to sprint the finish from pretty far out. If felt good to be done!

My final time was: 1:37:42.2
Swim (400 yards) 5:49
T1: 3:15
Bike (16 miles): 55:23
T2: 1:16
Run (5K): 32:01

Up next: The Grand Marais Triathlon!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pleasant Prairie Olympic Distance Triathlon, August 16 - I Guess I was Due

This summer, I have been frustrated with the weather. With the expectation of a handful of races, the conditions had been less than ideal – cold and rainy. On Sunday, August 16, I had the opposite problem. I should have been happy that it was 85 degrees, right?

The Pleasant Prairie triathlon is a big event. With participation hitting the 1,500 mark, they really accommodate racers well. There’s an expo all day on Saturday, and racers can check in their bikes as well. There’s security overnight, so there’s no need to worry. They also have off-site parking, but bus participants to the race site. They also give out really good swag.

I left Marquette on Friday after work. I headed down to Green Bay to stay the night with friends, and then drove the rest of the way on Saturday morning. I got to the race site about 2:00 for check-in. I collected my registration information, listened to the race talk, bought some sun glasses, and then headed back to Racine to get my pre-race groceries and some dinner. I actually got to have Noodles and Company. It was near the grocery store, and I swear, it wasn’t there the last time I was in Racine. I headed back to my parent’s house to eat and relax. My Aunt Cindy called me to find out if we could get together while I was in town. She decided to come to my race, and we would go eat afterwards. I headed to bed around 8:00. With the race starting at 6:00, I had to get up at 4:00 the next day to allow for parking and shuttling. I slept pretty well, and when the alarm went off at 4 am, I was ready to go. I got dressed, packed up, and got on the road.

As I got closer to the park, volunteers started directing traffic to the off-site parking area. There were already quite a few people there, so it took a few minutes. After I parked, I grabbed my back pack and hopped on the shuttle bus over to the park. When I got there, it was still pretty dark. I found my transition area and got set up. I wanted to get into the water, but it was still too dark, so they wouldn’t let anyone in the water. I decided to wait in line at the port-a-potty instead. Once the sun came up, they let the lifeguards get to their stations and let the racers into the water to warm up. The water was so warm. They told us it was 76 degrees. I probably didn’t need a wetsuit, but I decided to wear it anyway. After a while, they call us out of the water so the race could start. I wasn’t going to have to wait very long, though. I was in wave four. Pretty soon I was lining up. I tried to get close to the front, but not too far. I’m a good swimmer, but definitely not the fastest. Those girls could be in front.

No too long after my wave went, I realized that I was going to have to swim very aggressively. These girls weren’t holding anything back. We swam in a triangular pattern. By the time I got to the first buoy, I had been kicked, pushed, and swam on top of more than any race this year. By the time I got to the halfway point between the first and second buoy, I was swimming pretty much by myself, but by the time I rounded the third buoy, I met a bottle neck. Based on the colors of the swim caps around me, I was catching some of the people in the wave ahead of me, but also getting passed by girls in the wave behind me. I was glad when I made it back to the beach.

I ran up the beach and into T1. After a quick change, I was out on the bike. I got to test the new sunglasses that I bought the day before. I headed out of the park and onto the highway when I saw the first biker begin his second lap. He was already 12 miles ahead of me. I started up the first hill and decided to shift down into my small chain ring when disaster struck. My chain didn’t catch, and it dropped. I had to pull over to the side of the road and fix it. After what seemed to be forever, but was really only a little over a minute, I was back on my bike. It took me a while to get my momentum back. The first lap on the bike was pretty crowded, but by the time I started the second lap, the course was pretty clear, and I really got into my groove. The course is relatively flat, so I was able to go pretty fast, even with the headwinds. I made my way back into the park and into T2 in a really good time. As I was running my bike into transition, I saw my aunt Cindy cheering for me. I had a spectator! I looked at my watch before I headed out on the run, and realized that my goal of finishing at three hours was possible. I grabbed some water at the run start, and made the turn out onto the first out-and-back section of the run. At that point, disaster was striking for a second time. I could feel a cramp starting in my left quad. Not good. I tried to keep running, but it was getting worse, and worse. I was hoping that I could make it to the first aid station to get some energy drink for the sodium, but I had no such luck. It got so bad that I had to start walking. I HATE that. I walk/ran the rest of the 10K, know that my goal was going out the window. I guess I should have been more prepared for the weather. Even though I was in pain, I was going to finish. Over an hour later, I crossed the finish line. I was glad to be done.

I met up with my Aunt Cindy and we decided to go have lunch. I packed up and rode my bike back to my car, and met her and my cousin Kevin for brunch before I headed back onto the road for the five hour drive.

I had a conversation with someone about racing a while ago. He asked me if I ever had bad days. I told him that I have good days and bad days, but their always fun days. After my first bad race of the year, I can still say that I had fun, even though it was somewhat disappointing. We can’t win all the time, right?

My final time was 3:16:11

Swim (1.5K/1 Mile): 35:13
T1: 3:01
Bike (40K/25 Miles): 1:18:15
T2: 1:48
Run (10 K/6. Miles): 1:17:56

Stay tuned for the Manitowoc/Two Rivers YMCA Triathlon!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tri-Lakes Triathlon, August 8, Curtis, MI - It wouldn't hurt us to race in Curtis!

The weekend of August 8 was a big weekend in Marquette. The Ore to shore Mountain Bike Epic race is that weekend, and it was all the buzz for the week leading up to it. I, on the other hand, was gearing up for a different race - the Tri-Lakes triathlon in Curtis, MI. I must have been asked about a gazillion times if I was doing the O2S, and eventually got used to the blank stares that I got from people that I wasn't; I was doing a triathlon instead. The next question I would be asked was, "Is tom doing it? How well do you think he will do? Top 20?" I'll get to that later on.

Anyway, I woke up very early that Saturday morning to make the 1.5 hour drive over to Curtis. It was about 60 degrees before the sun came up, but it wasn't raining. The roads were wet, so it had rained overnight, and the skies certainly told the tale. I had gotten so used to having bad weather on race day, I shrugged it off. It was what it was, like it was every week. By the time I got to Munising, however, I was in a full-out downpour. I began to dread the day, and contemplated turning around. I could just go back and watch every person that I knew finish the Ore to Shore. It seemed like a way out, but I kept going. Maybe the rain would stop when I got to Curtis. No such luck.

Rain, more rain, and wind and cold was the theme of the day. I registered still wondering what I was doing. I had more than an hour to kill, so I sat in my car for a while. No sense in getting wet before the race started. After a while, my friend Katie showed up with her mom and daughter. It was good to see her there. She was the woman to beat; she finished in second last year, and the woman who won wasn't doing the race. I got out of the car to talk to her, and decided to set-up transition. I was going to have to do it eventually. I racked my bike, and noticed the bike rack was starting to fall over. Pretty soon, the whole thing slid on the slippery ground, and bikes started to fall over. It took the efforts of quite a few racers to hold it back up and get everything back in place. Once that drama was over, I decided to check my tire pressure. I aired up my front tire, and pulled the pump valve off of my tire, and proceeded to break the stem on my tire. It quickly deflated. I had a few choice words, but then began the process of changing it. I had to use the only spare I had, and then started asking people if they had a spare spare that I could borrow. Katie gave me her only spare, claiming that she didn't know how to change a tire anyway, so it wouldn't matter. I took it, but promised I wouldn’t beat her in the race.

I put on my wetsuit, and we went down to the water together. By this point it was raining again, and a dense fog had settled over the water. It was so bad, I couldn't see our buoys. I would have to follow the crowd. After we got lined up for the start, shivering, there was an announcement made that they had to delay the start a half hour because the sheriff was at the scene of an accident in Naubinway, and we couldn't start until he had his boat out in the water. There we were, freezing at wet, with no place to go. I was in a wetsuit so I was lucky; those who weren't were in trouble. They had to pull a woman out of the water with hypothermia. After what seemed to be an eternity, we were finally able to go.

The swim was shallow for a long ways, but very rocky at the bottom, which made it difficult to swim or run. When it finally got deep enough, I was able to swim moderately well. I had lost Katie. She has a swimming background, so that wasn’t surprising. I came back to shore and made the 1/8 mile run back to transition. It was still raining. I tried to put on my rain jacket, but it didn’t zip up right away, so I ditched it. I knew it was going to be a cold ride.

The bike ride was pretty uneventful, until I got almost to the turn-around. The bike course is hilly, but they extended it out about a ½ mile, which meant we had to make a very long climb before we could turn around. That hurt. After that, it was pretty much smooth sailing. I made the final turn before going into T2, and I saw Katie in the run. She was leading, and I let her know it.

As I headed out on the run, I felt really good. I passed someone almost right away, which never happens. When I got to the first hill on the very hilly run, I was starting to feel the climb. I got passed by someone. Ugh. I made it to the turn around pretty quickly, and got some water before the trip back. I saw another woman starting to catch me, and she did, on another hill. That was two, and I decided that was going to be it. I grabbed some water at the last aid station, and picked it up. There was a gradual downhill to the finish, which made it a little easier. I heard Katie cheering for me as I approached the finish line. I was happy to be done! I asked her if she won, and she had. I was so excited for her. I finished in 6th place. Not bad, considering that when I did that same race two years earlier, I finished second to last.

My plan was to high-tail it back to Marquette after the race, but I had to stay for the awards ceremony. I was 2nd in my age group!

My final time was 1:37:01.45. There was no chip timing, so I don’t have my splits.

After the award ceremony, I headed back to Marquette to the finish of the Ore to Shore. I talked to Tom on the way. He finished 30th overall, which was good enough for 2nd in his age group. Not bad, considering that there were over 500 people in his race. All of my friends who did the race had great days. It was a very cool day.

Up next: Pleasant Prairie Olympic Distance!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Copperman - August 1 - Copper Harbor, MI: Better Known as the Monsoon Man

For some reason, even though I've done longer distance races, the Copperman always makes me nervous. Maybe its because it's the biggest local race of the year, or maybe its miles 1.5 - 2.5 on the run. Either way, for the fist time this year, I was really nervous.

Tom and I got to Copper Harbor about 7:00 Friday night. We went over to Fort Wilkins Park to pick up my registration materials, and had a look at the lake. The 1/2 mile swim didn't look too bad, and the water felt okay. We then headed over to Fanny Hooe Campground and set up our tent. After, we walked over the the Mariner Restaurant for dinner. We walked around Copper Harbor after dinner, and then decided to head back to camp. I wanted to at least try to get a good-night's sleep, but that isn't always easy in a tent.

The people at the camp next to us were very loud, and their dog barked all night. At about 4:00 am, I awoke to rain drops on the tent. Great. It was windy. GREAT! I tried to sleep for the next couple hours not to much avail. When the alarm went off, We actually laid around for a half-an-hour before we got up. It was still raining, but not as bad as it had been. We packed up and headed over to the park to get setup. I got a good spot for transition. I was right next to the run out, on a corner. I chatted with a few people, waited in line at the port-a-potty, and then went over to the swim start. The men went out, then the women, and them teams. I lined up towards the front of the pack, the not the very front. After a short wait, we were out.

This is a true swim. There's no running. As I approached the first buoy, I saw the anchor in the water. Then I followed the rope to the buoy. The buoy had drifted quite far! At the second buoy, it was the same story. I wasn't too concerned that the swim was longer. I could handle it, and I felt Strong. I was able to free-style the whole way. As I came out of the water, I noticed that the swim had taken just over 20 minutes, which was the same as the year before. The swim must have been longer!

I headed into T1 and noticed that the sun had come out. I was going to wear Tom's SISU jacket, but decided not to as the weather seemed to be improving. SEEMED to be. The bike course at this race is challenging. There are a lot of hills that aren't steep, but long and gradual. It is a beautiful course, though, taking riders along Lake Superior. I settled in quite easily, and was pushing a decent pace. About five or six miles to the end, I noticed a very large black cloud coming from the southwest. It didn't look good. All of a sudden, the winds picked up and I was biking in a torrential downpour. I have never been caught in rain like that. It was so bad, I wouldn't see anything, and it didn't feel good. Rain hurts when it hits you at 25 miles an hour. I'm sure it slowed me down a bit, but I don't know for sure because I couldn't see my garmin. I was miserable. I told myself at more than one point that I was going to quit when I got into transition. This wasn't fun. AT ALL. I rode like that for the last four miles or so. As I made the turn back into the park, I slowed way down. I didn't want to power-slide, which Tom told me later that many people had done. As I dismounted, I looked a a volunteer and said, "I think this is the craziest thing that I have ever done!" She laughed. I ran though transition in standing water. I couldn't help but laugh. That seemed to lighten my mood, and my doubts from before were gone.

I racked my bike and realized that all of my running gear was under water. I tried to dump the water out of my shoes and put them on. I grabbed some water at the first aid station, and then I was off on the run. I saw tom at the first intersection. By that point, it had stopped raining. We start off on a trail, though, so there were big puddles everywhere. The run then moves out onto 41, and then at the end of 41, it follows a gravel road up a long, gradual hill that lasts about a mile. Its was nice on the way back, though; all down hill. When I got back onto 41, Tom rode his bike up to me. We chatted for a second, and then he went to the finish. I got back onto the trail, and before I knew it, I was making the turn to the finish line. I was finished, and the sun was out. For a second.

My final time was 2:34:05.3

Swim (1/2 mile): 20:46.7
T1: 1:36.5
Bike (23 miles): 1:15:53.6
T2: 1:22.0
Run (5 miles): 54:26.5

Up next: the Tri-Lakes Triathlon in Curtis, MI on August 8!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Castle Rock Triathlon, Adams, WI - July, 25. The Weekend I discovered why Tom and I could never have a dog.

Couples that are involved in endurance sports race a lot, often on the same weekends. Tom and I often find ourselves seperated on weekends with him off racing somewhere while I'm off racing somewhere else. This weekend, we had an opportunity to actually be together on a weekend. I was racing at Castle Rock Lake, and he was doing the 24 Hours of 9 Mile race in Wausau. We were only going to be an hour and a half a part. We were going to make it work.

We left Thursday afternoon, since we both took Friday off. He picked me up at work and we dumped a car at Danny and Heidi Hill's house. We then headed off to Rhinelander for the night. We stayed at Tom's grandparent's cottage, knowing that Tom's mom, sister and neices were coming down the next day. It was nice to be able to relax on Thursday night because the rest of the weekend was going to be go, go, go. We slept in on Friday and met Tom's family at his Grandma's house. We went out for lunch, and then we hopped in the car again and headed for Wausau. An hour and a half later, we arrived at Tom's race site. Quite a few of our friends were there, and since it was a 24 hour race, everyone was camping. We had our own little Yooper commune. We unloaded all of Tom's supplies, and then I continued the drive down to Necedah. I had originally planned to stop at my friend Wendy's house, but I just ran out of time. Sorry Wendy. I was really hoping to spend some time with you and Morgan!

I got down to my parents house about 6:00, just in time for dinner. My parents had prepared a meal that met all of my pre-race requirements, so I was happy. After dinner my dad and I headed over to my race course to pick up my race packet. There was no need to drive the course this year. I knew it pretty well, having done it twice before. We then headed back to the house, to find my Grandma sitting with my mom. I hadn't seen my grandma for a year, so it was a nice visit. Before long, I was headed off to bed.

When I woke up the next morning, the weather seemed to be perfect. I was stoked. I wanted to have a good race, and I had a goal of averaging 20 mph on the bike. It seemed possible at that point. We drove over to the race, which is on the other side of the lake from my parent's house. The conditions were dramiatically different. High winds, and white caps. Nice.

I found my bike rack and set up transition. My parents found a place to watch the race. I put on my wetsuit and decided to test the water. It didn't seem too bad, but you could see the apprehension on a lot of the athlete's faces. One guy asked me for advice. I told him to breathe to the opposite sides the waves were coming from, and to remember that big waves come in threes. Before long, they were calling athletes on to the beach to start the race. I was in wave 9, so I got to watch a lot of the swim. They called my wave, and I was ready to go. This swim is shallow for the first half, and deep on the second half. Once I started, I tried to swim right away. Most people were walking or running, so that made it difficult. After we made the turn at the first bupy, the water got deep and everyone had to swim. I was able to get into a groove the best that I could. After I made the last turn, I swam until it was too shallow and then ran up the beach into T1. The crazy white cap swim was over.

I got onto my bike and got into my big gear right away. I was on a mission. I had a tail wind at the beginning, so I took advantage of it. It was awesome. By the first turn, the "On your left's" were flowing. By the second turn, we were facing a cross wind, and by the 3rd turn, we hit a head wind. I tried to not let it slow me down too much, but it was there for the rest of the bike split. Still, I felt good. It was the best I have felt on the bike all year.

I pulled into T2 and saw my parents cheering for me. My dad asked me how I felt. "I feel great!" I said as I ran by. A quick change and I was out on the run. The difficulty of this run always scares me, but I was determined to do better than last year. For some reason, though, my stomach was really quesy and I started dry heaving. This was new; it had never happened before. I grabbed some water at the next aid station, took it easy for a bit, and then kept running. I was fine before too long. By the time I hit the trail section of the run, I was my old self again, and I finished strong. I came back into the park and my dad gave me a high five as I was approaching the finish line. Another year of Castle Rock was in the books!

My final time was 1:38:34
Swim (1/4 mile): 8:28
T1: 2:03
Bike (17 miles): 52:37 (19.25 mph)
T2: 1:24
Run (5K): 34:04

After the race, I headed back up to Wausau to be with my friends doing the 24 hour bike race. Tom's team took 3rd overall. Without a few issues, they would have won. You can read more about that at Also, the WSG girls won the 12 hour women's division. Way to go!

Up next: The Copperman, or as I have dubbed it, the Monsoon Man!