Monday, August 29, 2005

Fat Tire Tri-Beerware for the Gimp & Rookies

Had a blast at the tri, couldn't have asked for a more perfect day or race. The race took place in scenic Lory State Park, a beatiful area nestled in the foothills above Fort Collins. The swim was 750 yards (a bit short from the 825 yards last year since the water level was lower and we started further down the beach) in quiet Eltuck Bay off the larger Horsetooth Reservior. The bike was 12 miles on some tight, twisty singletrack and the run was 3 miles including a brutal 500 yard climb in 1/2 mile up a steep trail then a twisty descent down the other side of the hill with steep swithbacks every 4-6 steps or so in some places. I did the full Monty last year but for obvious reasons I only did the swim portion this year and left the hard work to my relay teammates, Jeanne and Leslie.

Last year the swim had a mass start with all 300 people in the water at once. Looking down on the narrow bay I couldn't believe we all fit in there and I felt like maybe my panic attack was justified. This year there were 4 waves and I was in the last wave which was perfect for me since it meant I wouldn't have to worry about fast people coming up behind me. For some bizarre reason everybody lined up spread out across the width of the bay rather than in a tighter pack nearer the buoys. I wasn't going to complain though since it meant I got a spot right next to the line of buoys with only 2-3 people in front of me. The water was beautiful, 70 degrees or so and I was plenty toasty in my full wetsuit. I warmed up a bit before the start and felt pretty good about things. The course was an out and back and my plan was to start off slow to avoid panicking, get into a rhythm on the way out then pick it up on the way back. This worked out great, I passed some people right at the start, found someone to draft off and relaxed into a nice pace without any major freak outs. After a few minutes I decided to pick it up and I had to weave a bit to pass people but it wasn't too crowded. I swam a fairly straight line right next to the buoys and the turnaround came up way quicker then I thought it would. On the way back I picked it up as much as I could, passing people from the previous wave and then the wave before that. By the time I was near the shore I could see about 15-20 people from the very first wave! For those of you that struggle with the swim as I did when I first started out you can imagine what a cool feeling that was. I went tearing up the beach while everyone else was struggling with their wetsuits or just catching their breath and passed even more people but that's the advantage of being in a relay. Still, I usually run into transition, I'm not sure why so many people were walking. Leslie ran the final stretch up the beach with me, urging me on and I passed the chip off to Jeanne, our cyclist. Final swim time was 16:46 and that included a run up the beach to the timing mat (time for the swim only was around 16:35 by my watch I think). This was good for 8/16 of all the relay people, including the men, and around 103/269 for the people doing the full tri. Not amazing but not terrible either, all things considered, and right about where felt I would be in a best case scenario (ie no panicking or getting kicked/blocked in).

This was the first time Jeanne had ever done a tri and I could tell she was a bit nervous about all the logistics of it. In fact, Jeanne had done a few mountain bike races some years ago but that was it for race experience so she wasn't sure at all what to expect and begged us not to be mad if she was slow. I told her we were all here for fun and not to worry about it. I passed the chip off to her in the transition area and yelled after her to 'have fun'. In her excitement she started riding her bike in the transition area, a big no no, but she caught herself right away and dismounted before exiting onto the course. Several other people were making the same mistake. Well, long story short, Jeanne was a madwoman on the bike. I missed taking her picture on the first loop because she was so much farther up in the crowd than I expected her to be. By the time she finished she'd worked her way up to around 20th woman overall, and that was with me starting in the last swim wave! She was totally amped up after her ride, excitedly telling me and her husband all the details of her allegiances and rivalries out on the trail and how she finally started getting aggressive about asking people to let her pass on the single track. Her final time was 1:06:09, good enough for 3/16 for the relay people (including men) and 15/119 for the women doing the full tri.

Our runner Leslie is a coworker of mine who decided to start getting in shape and training for triathlons last fall after she volunteered in her kyak for the swim portion of a tri and decided it looked like fun. She started with spin and weight training classes last fall with a bit of swimming thrown in. This spring she started up with running but was focusing most of her time on the bike. She did her first tri just a couple of weeks ago and had a great race. The run is only 3 miles but extremely challenging because of the steep trail portion and Leslie doesn't really do much trail running, certainly not on trails like that. I warned her ahead of time but she was still game. I didn't tell her about the 2 rattlesnakes and bear that a race employee saw while pre-running the course last year until after the race was over. I had convinced her to bring along Ernie, her Jack Russell Terrier because Ernie is always good for comic relief and the day is always so much better when there's a dog hanging around. Ernie is a bit of a momma's boy and he cried his head off the entire time Leslie was on the course. I found that if I rubbed a certain spot on his chest he would go quiet but as soon as I stopped he was crying again. I kept having to explain to people that he was missing his mommy who was on the race course so they wouldn't think I was torturing him. Leslie looked strong coming into the finish and as soon as she crossed the line little Ernie leapt into her arms and started licking her face much to the delight of the crowd. Leslie's time was 35:27, good for 11/16 of the relay people and excellent for someone who only started running a few months ago and doesn't really run all that often.

In the end we got 3rd place out of 16 relay teams and that included the men's only and co-ed teams! Not too bad for the gimp and rookies, never mind our ages (39, 41 and 45). Hardware was a bottle of Fat Tire beer with our placement on it but they only gave us one which I thought was pretty tacky. Jeanne let Leslie and I have it to display at work so I decided to make up an award for Jeanne and got a 3-d picture frame from Target. I'm going to make a little montage of all her photos and put the race/placement in there too.

I've never done a relay before and it was pretty fun though I was wishing I could have done the whole thing. I was still pretty tired when I got home, probably from being in the sun all day and I did do a lot of walking around. I fell asleep on the couch at 7:30 pm, a new PR for me.


  1. Great report and photos! This was a long time coming and it sounds like you thoroughly enjoyed yourself. More to come soon for you, I hope.

  2. Sounds like fun! Congrats on the beer trophy. By the photos it looks like a beautiful race.

  3. Thanks you guys, the race was fun and beautiful. Hopefully next year I'll do the whole enchilada myself.

  4. Elayne.....Just happened to stumble upon your race report! Very nice! Glad you had a good time and I hope to see you and your teammates out there next year. I am sorry about only having one bottle for the relay teams....I never even thought about it till I handed out the first award and realized I had screwed up and only made labels for one instead of all three team members. It won't happen again next year!!

    Keep training and good luck in the off season!

    Altitude Racing Management