Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tri-ing it with the Horsey Set-Lookout Mountain Triathlon

Well, the name of the name of the race does have 'mountain' in it.  It was hillier than I thought it would be, especially the run.  I was not expecting such steep grades on the run.  'Fun, rolling run loop on dirt roadways' is how the race website described.  They were definitely taking some liberties with their definition of 'rolling'.  Anyway, I'm not complaining, it was perfect practice for me, couldn't have asked for a nicer course and great practice for my upcoming longer Xterra's.  But my predicted finish times were way off, especially the run.  I was doing the ultra-runner shuffle up those hills and that's a way different pace for me than a regular 5k on rolling terrain.  But it was exactly what my training called for so it worked out great.  And it was a beautiful course, both the bike and the run.

The race starts at 6:30 a.m. but I don't get there until just before 7:00 because my wave doesn't go off until nearly 8:30.  The race director asked people to arrive staggered to avoid congestion and allowed us to set up in transition while others were racing.  It's weird though, the first person finishes 40 minutes before I even start.  They run the swim waves slowest to fastest and somehow I'm in one of the last waves so I get to watch all the superfit stick people arriving to transition with their superfancy aerodynamic carbon fiber titanium spaceship tri bikes. The difference between the early and late crowd in attitude and gear is pretty funny.  People in those first waves are riding ill fitting mountain bikes that probably belong to their neighbor and long basketball shorts with cotton t-shirts.  They do full wardrobe changes in transition between the swim and run.  In the time it takes  me to set up my entire area one couple still hasn't taken off for the bike.  The late crowd wear supersonic aerodynamic skin tight suits and have their shoes attached to their pedals and slip their feet in on the fly to save time in transition.  No dilly  dallying for them.  That's the great thing about the sport, it attracts all sorts with all different goals.

Because the race was so spread out you had cyclists racing runners into transition.

I kill some time before my wave starts by having a complete stranger take my picture.  In my defense she asked me to take hers first.

I spent so much time working out a way to keep my hair from going feral but it didn't even make it to the swim.  Teensy little pony tail braids get the thumbs down though at this point I'm not sure if anything will work.

Do you like my zillion year old pair of men's tri shorts from the bargain bin?  They're my favorite race shorts, so comfortable even if they're for boys and not so fashionable.

The race is at a country club and country clubs always remind me of Caddyshack.  Plus there's something weird about them.  I look around for Bill Murray because he seems like the one person at a country club that I could relate to but alas there's no sign of him.  I go back to the pool area after the race is over to retrieve a shirt I left behind and it's a good thing I don't have a Baby Ruth bar on me is all I'm saying.

This is my first ever pool swim in lanes and I'm not sure how it'll work.  We're pre-assigned a wave but we have to form our own groups of 4.  I find 2 other women who are planning a time 20 seconds slower than me which is kind of a lot in swimming but it's the best we can do.  Finally we find a fourth who's thinking she's even slower so lucky me, I get to lead the lane.  I was so hoping to be able to find people just a wee bit faster and draft.  But as it turns out the woman behind me wants to pass me after 100 yards or so then because we're all sort of on top of each other the third woman wants to pass me.  We all end up swimming right behind each other and though I lose some time having to let the other pass I also get a good draft the whole way.  Nonetheless my swim time is a disappointing 10 minutes or 1:54/100 yards.  I was sure I'd do it in 9:40 but oh well.  Maybe I lost more time than I thought letting the others pass.

Not my swim wave but the third lane from the left is sort of how we were all swimming.

T1 goes down without a hitch and then it's onto the bike.  The bike starts out with a nice downhill so I have a chance to recover a bit.  Which is good because it gets steep in a hurry.  1100' feet of vertical climb in the 10 mile course with the worst grade being around 10%.  Someone mentions the 10% grade in transition before the race and I scoff in my head, 'Olde Stage road is 17-18% and it's right by my house, I ride it all the time'.  Except now that I think about it I can't remember the last time I rode up Olde Stage.  Used to ride it all the time is not all that helpful.  But the climbs I've been doing for intervals are still steep, certainly more than 10% but I've been doing them on my mountain bike which has more forgiving gears.  But it's turned out to be good training and I manage the hills o.k. just slower than I was anticipating for the bike.  My legs feel a bit tired from the week of training but not so much that I can't squeeze some strength out of them.  A woman from my age group passes me at the start of the bike but I pass her going up a steep hill as well as one or two more women from my age group.  But because of the staggered start it's hard to know where someone is in the race compared to you so I don't worry too much about it.  I lose people on the downhill because my bike is geared for climbing.  On steep descents I run out of gears and being small doesn't help either.  I get as aero as I can and use the time for recovery until I can pedal again.  The course is a little curvy and technical on some of the steep descents and sure enough someone is being put into an ambulance back near transition.

If I have to ride my road bike this is exactly the kind of course I want to do it on.

The bike course did measure 10 miles despite what Gmaps says.  I was SO happy when I realized I was nearly at transition way before I expected to be.  Still I finish in 48:31, 5 minutes slower than my predicted time.

T2 also goes down without a hitch and now the fun starts.  Though I started out life as a runner it's turned into my worst event.  Injuries, surgeries, etc.  As I start out on the run and feel my heavy legs shuffling I remind myself that I'm lucky that I even can run.  Then I hit the big ass hill, straight up, someone is walking behind me and I think she's going as fast as my shuffling.  I should probably switch to power hiking but for some unknown reason I want to run.  It's hot and no shade.  And so it goes, up and up and up a dirt road.  A guy with a '47' on his calf passes me and says, 'Go 47 years olds!  1964!'  I answer 'Yay!' or something best as I can between the wheezing.  I reach the mile marker and I hear a woman behind me groan, 'Does that mean 1 mile??!!'  I tell her yes but add cheerily, 'But that means only 2 more to go!'  I can't see her but I'm pretty sure she wants to hurt me.  Or worse.  Then we go down for a bit and I've convinced myself that's the end of the hills, all downhill until we get to the foo foo country club where maybe we'll have a round of golf or polo or a cigar or whatever we do at country clubs.  Bill Murray will magically appear and incite a gopher riot.  But I'm wrong.  The dirt road narrows and goes up and up again, switch-backing through a mountain subdivision of houses but at least I'm in the woods now and it's shady.  It's a beautiful area and I grind up the hill.  Two people from my age group pass me but they're way too fast for me to chase.  Finally I reach the top and it is downhill the rest of the way.  Sort of.  I shuffle down fast as I can but the downhill is what screws up the hamstring so I try to be careful and not overstride but still fast fast little shuffly steps.  Finally I can hear the finish line but there's still a hill in my way.  A guy passes me and groans, 'Ugh, another hill' and I say 'But we're almost there' which is the lie I've been telling myself for the past mile but it cheers him up and he says 'Right on' and charges up.  Finally the finish line.

Then there's the food spread.  Guys in white shirts and black pants serving us hot, real, healthy honest to goodness food.  I blink a few times to make sure I'm not hallucinating.  Platters of beautiful fresh fruit, steamed spinach, grilled mushrooms, scrambled eggs, hash browns, all the breakfast meats for those who eat them, breakfast burritos, I don't know where to start.  Not a chip or crappy cookie in sight, everything hot and fresh and healthy.  Brunch at the country club, dahlink.  Life is pretty good at the country club.

The views aren't so bad either.

Final Stats

525 yard swim:  10:00 mins. (predicted 9:40), 72/257 overall

Dash from pool to transition:  37 sec.

T1:  1:26 (predicted 2:00)

10 mile Bike (road):  48:31, 12.4 mph (predicted 43 mins.), 150/257 overall

T2:  1:12 (predicted 1:00)

3.1 mile Run:  39:45, 12:50 min./mile (predicted 33 mins.), 207/257 overall

Total:  1:41:29 (predicted 1:30), 152/257 overall, 79/157 women, 11/21 age group

Funny to watch my rankings drop in the individual sports as you go from swimming to running.  If I had cut a mere 3 minutes off of my run I would have bumped up to 7th place in my age group.  1st place in my age group had a time of 1:15:07 (my original finish time prediction from Monday) and 3rd place had a time of 1:20:46 so I was over 20 minutes away from the podium.  Not that I had any thought in my head of coming home with hardware but it's interesting to see how far away I am.

No rest for the wicked.  Got up this morning and went up to Eldora to pre-ride the bike course for my Xterra up there in 2 weeks.  Despite the sore quads I survived.  Thankfully it's a 2 loop course so I only had to ride 7 miles rather than 15.  Phew.  I'll post photos and thoughts about it in another post but in general it looks ride-able.  I didn't stay to ride the run course.  It's going to eat me alive whatever it is and maybe I'm best off not knowing.  Plus I was so tired and hungry, headed down the canyon and had lunch instead.


  1. That sounds like a seriously tough course - you did great! First race of the year always brings good learning experiences! PS I love Caddyshack :)

  2. Congrats on getting through it! I'd watch out for Bill Murray, too, because his other experience with large rodents isn't nearly so light and cheery (groundhog day).

    WOnderful to get all that food at the end. Almost makes me want to... up at the end for the food.