Race Recap

Remember a couple weeks ago when I asked someone to help me identify a half to do in the coming months? Well, I haven’t found one yet, but I succumbed to peer pressure and on a lark, registered for a 10k that was part of a local race which also included a marathon and half marathon.

The City of Oaks Marathon and 1/2 Marathon took place here in Raleigh on November 3. I obviously cannot comment from firsthand experience about these but can say that according to the race organizers, the course was changed this year to make it faster. From looking at the elevation map, generally knowing Raleigh’s topography, running part of the course, and speaking to friends who did both the full and half, I can unequivocally say that the past years’ course must have been hell on earth.

The 10k course was also not so easy, but running isn’t supposed to be easy, right? Mile one, as I could gather from the elevation map, was almost all downhill, with a short steep uphill at about .75. Sweeeeet. Now as a brief aside, let me advise that none of you actually try to “race” anything other than a trip to the hospital with a) only 13-15 miles of mileage under your belt for several weeks or b) no warmup on a 37 degree morning- in shorts.

Anyway, mile 2 was fairly flat with one or two climbs. Still feeling pretty good, I clocked in at 14:25 for the first two miles. Just before mile three was a pretty long, nasty hill. At this point, my lack of training and warmup led to cramping in both hamstrings within about 5 minutes of one another. Can I also blame pregnancy on this? Surely the blood flow to areas other than my reproductive organs has to be limited right?

The last half of the race was an exercise in futility. I felt pretty well aerobicaly, which is nothing short of a miracle given my complete lack of conditioning. However, my muscles were shot from the cramping. Mile 4.9-6.4 (per my Garmin) was pretty much a death march straight uphill. I dragged my almost lifeless body across the finish line in 49:06. While this is a pregnancy PR, the last time I ran a 10k pregnant, I was 28 weeks along and MASSIVE.

With respect to the race, other than the crappy hills which should come as no surprise, in light of the fact that Raleigh is freaking hilly, I thought it was extremely well run. There were 750 volunteers throughout the course. The crowd support was wonderful. There were a lot of porta potties. There were jugs of hand sanitizer right outside the potties. Running through downtown Raleigh was a blast. The post race “party” was located about 1/2 mile from the 10k finish and about a block from the marathon and half marathon finish.

Oh right, so I forgot about what I would perceive as hell on Earth if I were running one of the longer races. The 10k started 30 minutes after the full and half. At close to our 2 mile marker, the 10k converged with the rest of the field. I filtered into the 2:15 half marathon pace group. I can imagine that group was frantic about getting passed by hoards of people, then annoyed because we were “only” running 6.2 miles.

Our finish was on the left side, after the 1.6 mile climb previously mentioned. The longer distances continued on the right. So not only did the longer races have to watch us finish, they continued to slog up that hill, which appeared to last another 1/4 mile. It was at around mile 8 of their race. It would have been so demoralizing to watch all these people finish as I was slowly jogging towards my death. Trust me, I have experienced it before in marathons, watching the half-ers cheerily split off to the post-race festivities.

At City of Oaks, the post-race festivities included free pizza, donuts, soup, bread, fruit, and BEER. Which I of course had none of, because pregnant woman can’t drink in public. There was a bounce house for the kids, and the post-race area was not so close to the finish line as to congest the spectating or finishers. I also liked how easy it was to get to and from parking, which was available in many different directions from the race start and finishes.

Overall, I give this race and it’s organizers a B+. It’s not for the faint of heart, but I think it would be a great, scenic, energetic race if you don’t mind a few hills. A friend of mine unexpectedly PR’d, but she is a freak of nature and is from this area (and most likely doesn’t repeatedly run in a 1600m loop in order to avoid hills, the way I do).

I did a long recovery walk with my Super Family, including our 3 mutts, later in the afternoon. Monday I was sorer than Pamela Anderson after the NYC Marathon, but on Tuesday I was re energized to tackle some hill work. If I’m gonna live in this city, I may as well give in to its topography and stop being a wuss about the elevation changes. It’s not like it Asheville or Boulder!

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Race recap

I have meaning for some time to do a product review post, because I am a product junkie.  Ok, I’m a shopaholic.  There, I said it.  I will get to the review later this week because I wanted to do a quick tediously long race recap.  It may take you 98 minutes (the length of time of my race) to read it.

My first triathlon was this weekend.  It was the Triangle Triathlon in Apex, or maybe it was Holly Springs?  I am not sure.  Anyway, I have the White Lake International distance triathlon on September 7, but felt like this would be a good tune-up race since it is significantly shorter, i.e., I have not been in the pool nearly as much as I should, so I wanted to gauge my fitness (or lack thereof).  Also, as mentioned earlier, my friend Sherman, who has done a handful of Ironmans, basically forced me into doing it.

Last week I had one good workout.  I had been battling a stomach bug for over a week, and the old me would have used that as the perfect setup to excuse a poor performance.  Instead, I decided to just take the bug head on by overdosing on Imodium and Pepto.  After a good 72 hours of medicine, which apparently is contrary to manufacturer recommendation, I felt more than 50% normal.  I did not do any workouts on Wednesday or Thursday as that was when I felt like death was warming over, but apparently this made for a decent taper.  On Friday, Sherman and I did about 10 quick miles on the bike and a fast mile (well, rounding up significantly) after work.  I felt like a pile of warm sludge.  This could not bode well, right?

I made a list of all the things I needed on Thursday night, and packed my bag Friday.  I painstakingly selected a tri suit, oh wait, I only have one kit.  I also set a reminder on my iphone to bring my USAT card or else I would have to pay $12 at the race venue in order to pick up my packet.  I guess I missed the memo about bringing my ID as well.  More on that later.

Super Girl also chose Friday to get some sort of illness, and naturally, she woke up three times in the middle of the night.  Super Dad, as per usual, woke up with her the first time, so as to give me some extra rest.  The other times, I took one (two, three) for the team.  Basically, by the time the alarm went off at 5:15, I felt like I had gotten maybe 39 minutes of shut-eye.  Awesome.

Sherman and I swung by McDonald’s and had a nutritious breakfast of egg and cheese biscuit for me, and sausage and egg platter for him. Oh yeah, we had pizza the night before. Apparently this is some thing that triathletes do?  I guess I really was destined to get into this sport.  How ironic after my last post on nutrition.  We got to the race venue around 6:00 and the race was to start at 7:30.  Plenty of time, right?

By the time we lugged all our stuff from the parking lot to the transition area, met up with some of Sherman’s friends, and went to check in, it was almost 7:00.  I just needed to get out my USAT card and ID to pick up my bib.  Oh wait, I didn’t have either.  I left my USAT card in the truck (one mile away) and my ID at home.  They let me use my facebook page to authenticate my ID – wow, really? And I had to borrow $12 to pay the one-day fee.  Of course.  By the way, I owe Cameron Simmons $12.  Better set a reminder on my iphone.

Fast forward to the swim start.  I was in the 6th wave, so I had to wait about 24 minutes to start.  We warmed up before the swim, at which point I learned the temperature of the lake was 90 DEGREES.  What?!?! A 90-year-old would get hot in that lake. Not good.  I warmed up then stood around more nervous then you could ever imagine.  I seriously almost tossed my cookies.  I had not been that nervous in over a decade I would guess.

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We lined up in the water and I realized it was on.  These girls were hardcore.  I had heard about fighting during the start of the swim, and people drowning and punching each other.  I didn’t drown anybody and managed to escape with no bruises, but I had a minor panic attack when I was trapped in a pack for about 50 meters.  Eventually, we evened out and I was out in the lead with two other girls.  I got really really warm about halfway in (400m), and when we caught up to the wave in front of us, there was a lot of water gulping going on because these were not the most fluid of swimmers.  I just kept my eyes on the girl right in front of me, and perhaps drafted off of her a tiny bit.  Kept me from having to do all the navigating.

Came out of the water tied for second.  I looked down at my Garmin and almost laughed when I saw how slow the swim was.  Yikes.  Maybe time to start training in the water some more. T1 went uneventfully, though I was shaking as I put on my shoes and helmet.  Still nervous!  Got through to the bike start and it took what felt like 4 minutes to get clipped in.  Oy, I should have just tatooed “Novice” on my helmet and back.

The bike went as well as I could expect.  I feel like I know my bike pretty well at this point.  I got passed by quite a few girls on what appeared to be $5,000 tri specific bikes with $2,000 race wheels (that’s what I am telling myself) but I passed a lot of men on hybrids if that’s any consolation.  I am a pretty decent climber but need work on going fast on flats and dropping down to get more aerodynamic.  I can say I was probably the only person with a road bike that did not have aero bars.  So I put an order in for those already.  I am sure I looked like a goon sitting up in spin class as I came down those hills on my aerobar-less bike.  Oh well, it was a learning experience.

I felt good finishing up the 17.5 mile bike, which is perhaps a sign I didn’t push myself hard enough. Or so I thought.  I had a pretty quick T2, slipping into my  laceless Zoots.  Housed a few Stinger energy chews and chugged some water on my way out to the run start.  Feeling pretty good… until about 1/2 mile in.  That’s right people, I pretty much hit a wall at that point. I didn’t have my Garmin on gps mode because I was using it on stopwatch mode during the swim.  I had no clue how fast or slow I was going, and there wasn’t a mile marker until mile 2.  Oh, and at what I presume was the 1/2 mile mark, we went from a paved surface to a trail.  Not like a single-track, break your ankle trail.  But gravel, sticks, and mud puddles.  What?  I really need to spend less time watching Bravo tv and more time reading course descriptions.   I wanted to cry.  I was so tired and hot.

The only thing keeping me going was “only 18 more minutes- assuming I am running an 8:30 mile pace, only 15 more minutes, only 10 more…” Plus, I wasn’t getting passed by very many people.  There was a girl right in front of me who was also in my age group and I remember her passing me on the bike.  She had an Ironman tattoo on her right calf.  I was thinking “wow, she is really struggling and she has done an Ironman.  I don’t feel so bad about myself anymore” and “there is no way I am ever doing any Ironman.  Those people are crazy!” Sorry Sherman and random girl, who I ended up passing.  Woo! At the 2 mile marker I got my 13th wind.  I looked at my watch and realized I was somehow well under an 8:00 mile pace.  I felt like I was speed walking at that point.  Suddenly I was at the 3 mile marker, and then I was done, having finished the run portion in 23:30.  Not too bad after a 750 swim and 17.5 mile bike.

As soon as I finished all I could think was “I am NEVER doing a triathlon again.  Ever.”  And then I thought “Oh hey, they have free Mountain Dew and Papa Johns?! I am definitely doing another triathlon.” Usually you get little pieces of bagel and half a banana after a marathon.  Maybe some beer if it is a St. Patrick’s Day race. But these triathletes do not play around with the pizza and soda. I limited myself to one slice and waited for my buddy to finish.

I finished 6th in my age group and realized that with just a little extra effort in the pool, better form on the bike, and some more strength work, I could actually get on the podium next time.  Hey maybe I could even win if someone wanted to pay for private coaching lessons and a Felt tri bike for me.  And pay my mortgage and daycare so I can quit my job and train full time. Ok, I guess that isn’t going to happen, so I will just buy a book about triathlon training, get the local tri shop to tweak the geometry on my bike, and have them slap on my new aero bars.

My goal this week is to get in the pool twice and do at least one strength training session. We are already on Tuesday and I have done neither, so I guess there may be some doubles in my future. Ouch!

Do you have any favorite exercises to increase leg power?  Any suggestions for positioning on the swim, other than taking up Kung Fu? Anyone else race this weekend?  How did it go? Any triathlons I need to put on my bucket list?

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