Monday, September 10, 2007

Glenwood Springs Triathlon 2007

This is one of my favorite on road triathlons. The swim is in the Hot Springs pool, the bike is on the interstate but very scenic (trust me) and the run follows a path along the river. This is my fourth Glenwood Tri and I know it will be my slowest, the only question is how much slower? Three years ago my time was 1:57, I guessing this year will be something between 2:10-2:15. No matter, this race is more of a treat to myself than a horse race and I intend to enjoy it.

My right knee, the one that had the surgery, was bothering me badly last weekend so I decided to rest it as much as I could this past week. It felt a little gimpy on Saturday but that was probably from the 3 hour drive to Glenwood. Nothing to do with agility practice Saturday morning, oh no. I was prepared to DNF and skip the run if I had to, I didn’t want to be laid up for the next month because of a race but I knew I could handle the swim and bike and decided to see how I felt by the run.

Could I Be Any More Disorganized?

Thursday brought a couple of surprises, first of all an unscheduled site visit to Winter Park on Friday for work then after work I just happened to find out that the closing date for USDAA Nationals is Sept. 24. Yikes! It meant I had to decide, like now, if I wanted to go to Nationals so I could put teams together. I made a quick executive decision that yes, I want to go, and immediately advertised for teams. Mind you I'm also trying to find teammates and pairs partners for an Oct. trial with a Sept. 25 closing date. Of course I was away from the computer all day Friday and spent Friday night frantically sorting out teams & parters. When the dust cleared I had it almost all sorted out except Cody's teammated for Nationals. I had a woman interested but she's really good and I wanted her to know that Cody is inconsistent and told her to think about it, let me know on Sunday. I was tired from my 4 hours of mountain driving plus climbing around at the construction site and dealing with a problem they had. I still had to pack up my tri gear and get stuff ready for agility practice first thing in the morning before I left for Glenwood. At 9:45 pm I realized I didn't even know where to go to pick up my race number/packet. At least I was remembered to look it up before I hit the road.
Needless to say that by the time I made the 3 hour mountain drive to Glenwood Springs I was tired and dizzy and preoccupied with all the Nationals hassle, trying to think of team names and worrying about all I'll have to do to prepare to go. My head was not quite in race mode.

One of the few things I like about traveling is that you're away from your house and your crap so there isn't much you can do about all you have to do. I had a luxurious 45 minutes to kill before the pre-race course meeting so I sat outside on the lawn at the meeting place and read a book. Yes, that's right folks, I sat reading a book and put everything else right out of my mind. It was fabulous. I wasn't quite in race mode yet but at least I was out of frantic, overexcited mode.

Race Day

I don't sleep well in hotel rooms, especially when someone gets some kind of delivery at 2:30 am and makes all manner of noisy racket for a full 1/2 hour. I managed to get back to sleep an hour later but had weird fitful dreams and woke up tired and grouchy when the alarm went off. My stomach was a bit unsettled so I decided to skip breakfast. I had a late pasta dinner the night before so I figured I was good.

Da Swim-825 meters (902 yards)

The swim is my favorite part of this race. It's 7 lengths in the Hot Springs Pool and let me tell you 80-85 degree water is pure heaven compared to the high 50's that I had in my other races this summer. Air temp. was high 40's, low 50's so while I waited for my heat to start I warmed up in the soaking pool which is really hot like a hot tub. My stomach was playing up even worse but it calmed right down when I hit that nice warm, soothing water with all the healing minerals. Soon it was time to be off though and the regular pool felt freezing after that so I swam a bit to warm up before the gun went off.

Usually I don't have a problem with other swimmers and crowding but for some reason this year it was like being in a giant washing machine and it didn't abate even after 2 lengths so I finally made my way to the outside of the fray. On the plus side I had feet to draft off of nearly the whole way. Hard to say why but I love swimming in that pool. Maybe it's the soothing minerals or maybe because I have the security of swimming in a pool but the fun of swimming in a group in an open water format as opposed to swimming in lap lanes which would probably bore me stupid. I can focus on my stroke and enjoy the feeling of the water without the worry of a lake swim. I tried to savor the swim but it was over way too soon. I exited the pool in a big pack which is also unusual. They did a good job of grouping us all according to predicted swim time.

Da Bike-15 miles

The bike course is an out and bike on the interstate which sounds horrible but is actually pretty nice. Traffic is sparse at 8:15 on a Sunday morning and the rising sun turns the surrounding mountains bright red. It's a perfectly gorgeous morning, sunny blue skies and beautiful mountain scenery. What more could you ask for?

The first 3 miles are downhill and somehow I ran out of gears right away, leaving me spinning my cranks and getting nowhere while tribike after tribike go flying past me. What's the deal?! I don't remember this happening in previous years. I check my rear cog and it seems like I should have lots of gears left but try as I might I can't get the shifters to move the chain. All I can do is tuck down into the drops, get as aero as I can and coast. Finally after 3 miles the shifters start to work but at that point I've run out of hill. I haven't changed the cables in the 10 years or so that I've owned the bike so clearly it's time to pony up for some new wires. Of course the bike would wait until a race to crap out on me. Must be revenge for stabling her all summer while I rode my mountain bike.

The turnaround comes up so soon I can hardly believe it. I've been a weekend warrior on the bike this summer and most of those rides were on trails so I was sure my bike was going to be dismal but my ave. speed was 21.3 mph at the turnaround, not bad. Of course, when I make the turn I'm greeted by a hellacious headwind. I had this same wind the last time I did this race in 2004 so I wasn't terribly surprised. I was surprised to pass up a bunch of people who had blown past me in those first 3 miles. I suppose in a way mountain biking works some of the same muscles you need for powering against the wind so maybe I was better prepared than I thought I was. I end up trading places a few times with a tall guy who's got his work cut out for him in this wind. He passes me and I don't try to pass again but rather let him pull me along mentally.

The plan was to have some gel at the halfway point but my stomach's still way too queasy so I decide no food for this race. It's short enough, it shouldn't be a problem and I can tell nothing's going to stay down anyway so why even try? I made it about 3/4 of the way through my water bottle by the 2/3 point, was hoping to finish a whole bottle but all of a sudden my stomach finally feels better at just about the same time I unexpectedly puke up a bit of water and food. Yes, while riding. Food?! Where did that come from, I haven't eaten a thing since last night's dinner. Then I remember I had forced down half an energy bar while I was setting up in the transition area. I did it purely out of habit and forgot all about it. Oh well, I felt o.k. so I brushed off my shorts and kept on riding. I've never had that happen before and hope it never happens again.

A few miles to go and my tall guy is slipping away. I'm pedalling as fast as my little legs will go but it's no use, I can't reel him in. I think to myself, 'Yes dear, it's called training, you should try it sometime'. But I can tell from my bike computer that the ride isn't going to be quite the disaster I was imagining. Not a PR but way faster than I thought I'd be. Before I know it I'm back in town and it's on to the run.

Da Run-5 miles

I've been devoting most of my training to running, partly so I can exercise the dogs but also because I knew this would be the hardest part. I was running 4 miles several times a week no problem but hadn't quite made it up to 5 on a regular basis. It's not because I've been slacking but rather because I have to be so careful about adding mileage or I end up injured. I was happy enough that my knee felt good enough to attempt the run and best I could hope for is that it would hold up the whole way.

The first part of the run goes around the Hot Springs Pool and a volunteer says, 'Don't forget to have fun'. Uh oh, do I look that bad already? The first 1/2 mile off the bike is typically challenging for me but I don't feel like I have spaghetti legs or any unusual fatigue. The run goes through downtown Glenwood Springs then cruelly passes the finish line and heads out of town to a bike path along the river. I watch the people finishing from earlier heats but somehow I'm not jealous. Am I actually looking forward to the run?

Once I'm out of town and on the bike path I start to hear the pitter patter of feet as the runners start to pass me. There's not much I can do about it, I'm doing the best I can and all I can do is ignore them and run my own race. The first mile ticks off in 10:57, ugh. This is bad even for me. My only real goal for the run is to run a negative split and with such a slow mile maybe it will happen. This is kind of a cheater goal though because the first half of the course is more uphill than the last half.

At about the halfway point I run into Duane and give him a quick hello. He was looking pretty strong at that point, much better than I felt for sure. I kept plugging along and soon enough I was heading back to town. Each split was getting a little faster but not by a lot and I never had a single mile under 10 minutes. In 2004 I averaged 9:36 per mile so yeah I felt super slow this year. Nonetheless I finished with no cramps or knee problems. I even had a wee bit left in the tank for a little bit of a kick to the finish line. The race finishes downtown and the locals are out there at the finish line screaming their heads off for you and ringing cowbells whether they know you or not.

Post Race

There isn't much fuss at the finish of this race, just some cut up pieces of bagel and bananas, because there's a nice catered picnic and awards/raffle ceremony in a park a little ways out of town after everyone has finished. I force down a few pieces of bagel, don't ask me why, force of habit again I guess but they stay down o.k. I don't push my luck though and head back to transition to pick up my bike.

On my way back to the hotel I pass the finish line again and take a quick peek down the road. As luck would have it I can see Duane heading towards the finish line so I stop to cheer him in. He's looking great and has some loyal fans also cheering him in. Duane's quite the rockstar btw, those involved with the race took time at both the pre-race meeting and the awards ceremony to tell his inspirational story. Go check out his blog, he's got some great photos of the race and his own race report.


Final results compared with previous years:

825m 15 miles 5 miles
Swim T1 Bike T2 Run TOTAL

2007 17:42 1:59 52:58 1:24 52:36 2:06:37

2004 16:54 2:35 51:31 :50 47:46 1:59:41

2000 17:35 54:13* 51:08* 2:02:56

1999 19:03 4:03 51:39 :45 44:26 1:59:56

*transition times included in these numbers

Mile Splits for the Run:


I got my negative splits.


11/24 in age group
55/110 overall women
146/227 overall (men + women)

Very solidly in the middle of the pack, better than I thought I'd do.

My worse finishing time ever but 4-9 minutes faster than I was predicting and not so bad considering the fractured pelvis and knee surgery in the interim. Maybe next year I can think about improving but for now I'm happy enough for the simple joy of being able to race.


  1. Sounds great, especially after what you've been through. Photos are gorgeous. Swim sounds wonderful. It's intriguing reading all these details about how different each race is; things an outsider like me would never have guessed.


  2. Congratulations on another fine finish. You have inspired me to get fit. Perhaps when I am 60 I will be ready for my 1st tri.


  3. The 60-65 year old age group better watch out!

    There are so many different triathlon formats and distances and they each require different strategies and training. It's almost as confusing as dog agility.