Saturday, July 15, 2006

Race Report: Tri the Pee Dee

Short version:
Swim 700 meters: 21:06
T1: 2:16
Bike 25K 58:04 (averaged 16 mph)
T2: 1:06
Run 5K: 34:11
Overall: 1:56:42
61 out of 70 among women (and ahead of 4 men)
6 out of 7 in my age group

Long version:
Since my car was still in the shop Friday morning, my daughter and I set out in my husband's car for a drive of about 200 miles. We hit Friday afternoon traffic and I decided to take back roads and cut a corner--the back roads turned out to be very pleasant. We checked into our hotel and then visited the race site and drove part of the bike course until we realized we were running out of time for packet pickup and headed on to do that. I did at least learn of the big flaw in the bike course--one mile of dirt road at the beginning and end with a lot of loose sand. The race web site mentioned a dirt road, but said "The road will be scraped and will ride much like a concrete road; however, this section of roadway may have a few areas of sand." It was much worse than that.

I woke up a bit early, but had a fairly good night's sleep. I had a high-fat (like greek) yogurt and a whole-grain granola bar for breakfast. We got to the race course uneventfully and got set up. I rode a little bit of the bike course to check out my bike (in my Escort stationwagon I don't have to take the front wheel off, in my husband's minivan I do) and the road, which was pretty scary. I did a swim warmup--the water was warm but reasonably clear. The air temperature was 78 F at 8 am start time, according to records for a nearby town, 88 by 11 am.

The swim course was clockwise around the edge of a pond built for waterskiing. I thought I had a strong swim--felt comfortable the whole way and kept up my effort. But my time was slower (looking at watch times) than at Clemson, where I had trouble settling down into a smooth swim. Does a wetsuit make that much difference? Or did I swim faster when air and water were much cooler?

The first and last mile of the bike on the sand road were very slow and scary. Last year I wiped out on the bike and separated my shoulder in a race this time of year, and I really don't want to get injured this year. The rest of the course was good roads and almost completely flat--the race director said one hill with a vertical rise of five feet and he was exaggerating only a little. I thought I pushed it hard. I passed four or five people, including one woman in my age group, and was passed by three or four men. I was able to keep two who passed me in sight most of the way. I had forgotten my GPS, so I don't have any further information, but it sure felt fast. I drank almost my whole 22 oz. water bottle and ate my usual peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I took two electrolyte capsules.

The run was three times around the waterskiing pond. It was pretty, but the path had some soft sand and it seemed long to do it three times. I was breathing pretty hard almost the whole time so I thought I was keeping up my speed pretty well, but it was hot. The last quarter mile I realized the woman I had passed on the bike was going to try to pass me, and I speeded up. I guess I hadn't been making an all-out effort, because I definitely did have more to give and I was able to hold her off.

Apparently I twist my body too much when I am really trying to run fast. I was happy and very spent at the finish. The sad thing is that the other woman's timing chip apparently didn't work, and her results are posted as if she didn't finish.

I'm happy with the race--while I was a little disappointed with my times, it was most exciting experience I've had of racing against someone else.

We stayed for the awards ceremony and then headed home with a stop in Columbia. The food served after the race was pasta salad and I didn't want that many carbs and didn't feel hungry, but then a couple of hours after the race I was starving and mid-afternoon too. Mid-afternoon we stopped and were lucky enough to find a good icecream place: the best icecream in this region is a chain called Marble Slab and it now has an imitator called Cold Stone. The traffic was not slow but it was heavy enough to take extra attention, and I got home very tired.

I've started a table of comparative results, an Excel file you can open here Course lengths are so unreliable I don't know how much it is worth, but I can see progress at least.

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