Ride Hard....Roll Fast

My adventures as a triathlete, Mountain Biker and aspiring bike racer.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Annapolis Triathlon

So first things first...in response to a phew comments from readers (Ahem, Frank), I've decided to change the title of my blog, since I clearly do not swim as much as I used to. Originally it was more of a saying than a tribute to my triathlon training, but regardless....time to switch it up.

This past weekend was the Inaugural running of the Annapolis Triathlon. I had originally signed up for this race with grand expectations to train specifically to do really well here. But as the summer progressed, a few obstacles began to pop up in the way of my motivation: chronic shoulder injury, sprained ankle, and the love of my mountain bike. So basically, since July, my training consisted of a lot of rest and a lot of cycling. Not ideal when getting ready to race a TRIATHLON. My attitude going into the weekend was poor...I was pretty well convinced that I was getting ready to put up my slowest Olympic distance numbers of my tri career. That is, if I didn't DNF on the run.


I spent all day Saturday training coaches for GOTR, so I was on the road up to Annapolis by 5pm. Thanks to Vergil and Eric, who picked up my packet, switched out my wheels, passed inspection and racked my bike by 7pm. And thanks to Vergil's boss, Bill, who let Laura B and I camp out on his boat (aka yacht). That's a pre-race first!

Race Day:

Woke up at 4:00am (ouch) and was on the road by 4:30. With only one road leading into the Naval Academy Stadium (parking and T2), we were sure there would be traffic. All was clear when we arrived, but not 15 minutes later, there was a LONG line of traffic waiting to get in. Good thing for anal planning.

Set up T2 and was on the shuttle down to the waterfront by 5:45am. Set up T1, got into my wetsuit (always a fun thing) and then settled down to wait for my 7:35 wave. Was still incredibly nervous, but calmed down a bit when I heard from a number of sources that the jellyfish had finally left the area we were swimming in. YAY! One less thing to freak out about (still left the sharks though....hmmm). Before I knew it, my wave of ladies, 14-29 was making its way down to the launch dock. As I was getting my watch ready, I heard one of the most familiar voices I've come to recognize from my races this summer....Dharma! She and Chris Scott were in a double kayak just to the right of the swim start. Girl, you're a rock star! My nerves immediately vanished and I was excited for the race...finally. My friends had come out to support me. SO cool.

After a quick analysis of the swim course, I lined up all the way to the right of the pack, so I'd have a clean shot at the first buoy, and hopefully avoid the fray of arms, legs and neoprene...at least for the first 30 seconds. The gun sounded and we were off....and I was SHOCKED at how my start positioning allowed me to get out in front of the pack, FAST. It wasn't long though, before the rest of the group caught up to me and I began the full-body-contact that is a triathlon swim start. Did my best to hold my own and keep a strong stroke, while being kick, punched, and swum over. The rest of the swim was rather uneventful. I honestly expected to loose all steam about 1/4 of the way through (convinced I'd lost all swim endurance since I hadn't been to masters' practice in what,.....2 months?), but was pleasantly surprised that I felt pretty strong the entire swim. I came out of the water almost exactly in the middle of my Age Group....and faster than I'd planned for! Sweet!

Transition #1:
I really wish they gave out premiums for transitions. Clearly an athletic sport...getting out of the wetsuit and putting on your helmet are big parts of the event and require lots of training! :) I've been teased about being proud of being fast in transition, but if you look at how close finish times are at the end of the race, it's obvious that saving those few extra seconds, or even minutes, in transition is a big deal. The clock is still running! Get in and get out! I was out on my bike in just over 1 min 30 sec, which was good for 8th fastest T1 of all the women.


Clearly, this was where the last month-and-a-half of training paid off. Felt great on the bike and LOVED the course. Just enough rollers to make it interesting and one pretty tough, short climb about half way through the separated the men from the boys. MTB training coming through in the clutch! I started the bike in 44th place, and was back to the stadium in 13th place....so I was psyched. Having zero confidence that my ankle was going to allow me to have a good run, I figured I'd just bike as hard as I could and see what happened (rather than the typical hold-back-a-bit-for-the-run technique). My legs were hurting, but I felt fast and strong...and was still having fun. Bonus!

Transition #2:

Again quick in, and quick out...this time in just over a minute (and good enough for 6th fastest overall woman. See? I wasn't joking about being competitive about my T-times!)


I have no idea where my run came from. I have not been running. I don't really enjoy running, and I was fully aware that there is NO substitute for run training. You don't get faster unless you get out there and train. And when you don't, you're slow AND it hurts. I knew I had no one to blame but myself for the pain, so I just gritted my teeth and put one foot in front of the other. The first 1.5 miles of the run consisted of a bunch of loops in around the parking lot of the Navy Stadium, which allowed for a number of connections with Dharma and Chris. If not for them, my attitude would have definitely plummeted at this point...since the run is where I tend to hurt the most. But every time I turned a corner and heard Dharma, I couldn't help but smile!
Once we were outside the stadium and away from the crowds, it got tougher. The pavement was more cement-like (harder on your knees) and there were no mile markers, so I really had no idea how far I'd gone. I came up on an Annapolis Triathlon Club member that I'd met a few times at the lectures I'd done for them, and ended up running nearly the rest of the run with him. Tor was setting a great pace (thanks to his marathon training), and having someone to chat with made the time go by a lot quicker. He also was keeping tabs of the predicted mileage on his watch, so it was great to have a sense of distance traveled. The course took us to the Severn River bridge....where we went up (ouch) and then turned around to just come right back down. Now that was just cruel. :)

On our way back to the stadium I lost Tor, (who had to stop and stretch his calf) and as the walls of the stadium got closer, I looked at my watch, for the first time processing what the numbers meant. I was going to finish in under 2:45. My predicted time had been 3:00-3:15. "Must have been a fast course", I figured. The finish was VERY cool....we entered the stadium through the Midshipmen entrance and ran straight to the finish, which was on the 50 yard line. Huge video of the finish was being broadcast on both jumbo-trons on either side of the stadium.

I was happy to be finished, and immediately went to my car to change into clean (and dry) clothes. Stuck around to watch all our Principle Fitness studs and Studettes claim their places on the podium, and then had a great lunch and beer with Dharma and Chris. It wasn't until I got home and checked the results did any sense of success really sink in. I was pretty sure that finishing around 50% of the field was going to be a good time. I'm totally psyched about this race....and was really happy I did it. Now just imagine if I had trained! :)

Final Results:

Swim: 33:22
T1: 1:37
Bike: 1:10:32 (20.1 mph)
T2: 1:07
Run: 55:03
Final: 2:41:37.75

14th of 80 in my Age Group (25-29)