Monday, April 20, 2009

Ice Breaker Sprint Triathlon

Sunday was the Ice Breaker Sprint Triathlon at Granite Beach. (This was also the "graduation" race for my spring triathlon class, so I'm back to being on my own for training.) About 400 people raced the sprint triathlon. Maybe 20-30 were from the class. It was a great day for a triathlon.

We swam 1/2 mile in Folsom Lake at Granite Beach, then biked 13 mile on the roads within the state park, then ran 4 miles on the dirt trails within the park. Boring details to follow so I can remember them for my next race: I woke up 6 and had my usual breakfast of coffee and cream of rice with a banana. Got to the race venue at about 7:40. Got my stuff setup, stood in the long bathroom line, had a banana and two Gu chomps with caffeine. Did very little warmup (i.e. ran to the bathroom line, ran back; then biked in small circles for 3 or 4 minutes and got in the right gear), set my stuff back up (rolled socks, etc, for quick transition). (I totally forgot to see how other people in the tri club set their transition areas up. I'd planned to steal ideas from them.) Had a Hammer gel just before heading down to the water to get used to the cold, around 8:50 or so.

The Athena division started last so I had plenty of time to acclimate to the cold water before I had to actually swim. We started after 9:30. I was probably in the water for 30 minutes before my race started. The water was probably about 55 degrees. I was happy to have my wetsuit. Here's a picture of my wave swimming (women age 35+ and Athena), taken by a kayaker.

The swim was fine. My right goggle got knocked a little out of place at the beginning but I pushed it back on to prevent any further leakage and it was fine. A lot of people fear drowning in a mass swim start. I fear having my shoulders kicked and dislocated (since they've both popped out in the past), but other than that I don't worry. I used some advice from one of the tri class coaches during the swim: when someone is right next to you for awhile and you can't shake them, during one of your regular strokes, place your elbow firmly in his or her chest and push off. It helped me surge ahead of her easily. (In theory it doesn't hurt anyone...) Once again I wasn't able to draft off of anyone. For a moment I thought I found someone to draft off, but then she veered off course. I prefer to swim the shortest race possible. I finished the swim in 15:49.6.

I felt a little dizzy after the swim. That happened to me during my first tri (in 1998!) too, but not since. I had to walk to my bike instead of run and then I had to take it easy for a few moments to make sure I was okay to ride. I struggled to get my wetsuit off of my ankles. 5 minutes later I was on the bike. (Apparently 5 minutes was not long enough for me to be organized, as I left my goggles and swim cap in the transition area of my IMFL training buddy, Rose. oops!)

Bike course was nice. Some short hills but nothing serious. I wanted to pass some guys because they started 2 waves ahead of me. I passed one guy shortly after I got on the bike and that was a great confidence booster. When two guys passed me though I wondered if they were really so slow that I'd passed them in the swim, then I remembered it's a two loop course and they were on their second loop. I enjoyed the bike course, making me wonder once again if a flat Ironman course is really the best for me. I will miss going downhill on November 7. But 112 miles of hills is different than 13 miles of hills. In previous years, the bike has been my limiter. I've never been a good cyclist and the bike has just been super hard. Last year my bike commuting really helped improve my cycling. In the tri I did last August, I felt like I was flying on my bike. I passed lots of people, which I'd never done on the bike course before. But by the time I got to the run, my legs were shot. So I knew I needed to try to restrain myself and save something for the run. During the bike yesterday I couldn't tell if I was doing a good job pacing or not. I had my bike computer show me RPMs instead of MPH to hopefully keep me from trying to keep up my MPH. I focused on keeping my RPMs at about 90. I told myself to take it easy at times but could not resist passing people going uphill, and then going downhill you might as well pedal fast to take advantage of it, so.. I had no idea how the run was going to go. The first 6.5 miles took me 23:26.5 and the second 6.5 were 23:41.2. Pretty close splits, and it doesn't bother me that I was slower during the second half, because I deliberately tried to slow down a bit to make sure my legs didn't get too tight, and I stood up to stretch a few times just before the end.

My second transition went so quickly that I took an extra few seconds to see what I forgot. In August I had 2 minute transitions, but my T2 yesteday was just 1:17.

The run went surprisingly well for me. I meant to try to pay attention to my heart rate and run based on that, but I ended up just pacing by perceived exertion. My plan had been to take it east the first mile, then build from there. I forgot about that too. I ran comfortably hard from the beginning. I was glad that Dave and I had run on the trails here last week because last week was the first time I ever ran on trails. I knew to watch out for poison ivy and when to be careful about my steps. It was mostly a single track dirt path we ran on. Some parts had eroded in the middle due to rain this winter, which left somewhat dangerous descents. I saw Rose during the run and told her I thought this might be the first tri where I could actually run the whole run. Only a few minutes later I found myself walking up a steep, but short, hill. I probably walked fewer than 3 or 4 minutes throughout the run course, including two downhills that looked easy to fall down, and one long uphill that just seemed faster to walk up. (I had planned to walk up that one anyways. A part of my pre-race plan that was easy to follow.) I passed a few more guys on the run which made me smile. Smiling is good - positive energy during the race. I was pleasantly surprised that there were mile markers on the trail. (The tri class coach, who organized the race, said there wouldn't be.) During the last mile I passed and then was repassed by a woman with "30" written on her right calf. Our ages were written in permanent marker there, and our race numbers on our arms and thighs. I decided to try to pass her before the end of the race, because I'd previously decided that even though I was in the Athena division, I was racing against people in my age group too (30-34). I passed her without too much effort, which surprised me, and then I spotted another younger woman ahead and managed to pass her, too. I gave it all I had for the home stretch and was happy to see myself finish in about 1 hour 51 minutes. My optimistic goal time (the one I didn't tell anyone in case I didn't make it) had been 2 hours. Most importantly, I felt good during the run. (Run splits: 10:23.9, 10:20, 11:44.3, 9:31.9 - the steep hill was in the third mile, but I kind of wonder if the last mile marker was misplaced.) I was definitely looking forward to the finish in the last mile or two, but I wasn't kicking myself the whole time asking why I'd signed up, or telling myself that the Ironman will be impossible. I felt good and after 15 minutes to recover from the race, I was ready to run some more. I felt slightly guilty for not doing a long run this weekend so I was tempted, but I thought better of it.

I managed to place in the Athena division too! They gave me the 2nd place award. Although now that the results are posted online, I have to wonder if it was a mistake. I'm listed as the 4th Athena finisher, but they have my time wrong too. So something is wrong. Hopefully it's just my time. It would be sad to have to give up my plaque from my first triathlon podium finish! [Update: Race director said my time was listed wrong, so I'm in the clear as the real 2nd place winner!] (Me on the left, representing STC, the Sac Tri Club.)

All in all, this was a great start to the triathlon season! The weather is warm and I'm finally ready to start swimming again!

Just over 200 days til Ironman Florida!


  1. Great job Kendra! What a great start to the season!!

  2. Oh, and thanks for the swim gear!!

  3. It's a great lesson for me to learn to keep my stuff in my transition area. You have taught me well. but my ears will freeze if you don't give me my cap back. I will try not to let it happen again.... please...? :)