Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tri-America National Series Tour--Anderson SC

Quick version: last finisher, but there were three women who did not finish so 11 out of 14 among women. First in my age group, as I was the only one.
swim 2K--1:01:04
bike 58K--2:38:34 (average 13.6 mph)
run 15K 2:27:41 (average 15:51 minutes/mile)
overall time: 6:14:23
Official Anderson temperature at 2 pm, 91 degrees.

I first had the big ambition of wanting to do Tri-101 Halifax, but before I had to decide I couldn't make the cutoffs it cancelled. I then signed up for this race because it was close and scheduled for the weekend before my daughter goes away. It is the first race that Sommer Sports has done in our area, and not many people signed up. My summer has been full of travel and my training has been pretty scattered: I've averaged over 10 hours a week total training but only around 50 miles a week of cycling and 12-14 miles a week of running with long runs of 6 to 8 miles. That's mostly because it has been hot and I have been going slow.

Yesterday we took my son back to his school and ran late and then met friends for dinner, so I barely had time to pack. I got up this morning a little before 5 and made myself a cheese omelet. My daughter and I got to the race site about 6 for a 7 am start and it was still completely dark. I was glad I had picked up my packet yesterday and had some idea where to go. When I set up in transition the good news was that I hadn't forgotten anything.

The swim was a two loop course because of low water. Nobody swam it under 34 minutes, so I don't think it was especially short. I was thrilled with my time, considering that in June a 3K swim took me 1:53 (being more cautious). I think the two loop course actually helped me--I didn't have those long stretches where I tend to lose focus and slow down.

I hadn't had time to drive the bike course beforehand, and the bike course in our packet was quite different from the one posted online in advance so it wouldn't have done me much good. From where I live, if I ride to the northwest towards the mountains it gets hilly fast, but southeast towards Anderson where the race was tends to be considerably flatter. But in the briefing before the race there was mention that the course had been changed on the advice of local cyclists to get more hills (probably more for lightly traveled roads). It was hillier than I expected--not mountainous but my Garmin says total climb of +1411/-1276 (compared to +95/-25 for my international distance race in June). Those numbers aren't terribly reliable, but clearly there was a significant difference. Update: cleaning up the results with MotionBased shows a total climb for this race, adding together the bike and the run, of 3,450 feet.

It was a two loop bike course, and a few miles into the second loop I realized my legs were hurting. I looked at my GPS and I was 20 miles into the bike--another 16 miles to go. Not good. I passed one person at the beginning of the bike and was passed by another who said she was also on the first loop. I don't know where she came from as I don't see anyone with a slower swim time than me. I felt discouraged at times, but I kept up my effort pretty well even with my legs hurting. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and drank three bottles of water--the water bottle handoff worked well.

When I got to the end of the bike I could hardly stand up, wasn't sure I could get off my bike without falling over. I haven't done any bricks (workouts where you run right after biking) and I just hoped that when my legs got used to running it would be ok. I started out the run feeling my legs hardly worked, but sure enough after a mile or so they actually felt pretty good.

I had biked part of the run course, which was hilly, and heard before the race that the part off the bike course was even hillier. So my strategy was to walk up the hills and try to run the rest. That worked really well--there were times when I was looking forward to a hill so I would have a chance to walk.

The run course was an out and back, done twice. The second time around I was the only one on the course, but the person picking up the tables waited for me at each aid station. At one point I told him I had worried whether this race company was friendly to slow people and I was very impressed, and he said he would wait for me as long as it took me. I felt I could still run at a fairly good pace for me--mile six was 14:34 even with a significant elevation gain. I ate 3 gels. The last mile or so a police car drove in front of me with his lights on. As I was running on the left he caused great confusion to the cars that passed. Sometimes it is not fun to be last and aware of a cleanup vehicle behind me, but in this case I believed they were not impatient with me. My daughter ran the last bit to the finish with me.

I was sore and started to stiffen up right away, but I didn't feel as badly after the run as after the bike. I was happy I had done it--a good bit longer than my longest previous race (which was 1500 meters, 24 miles, and 10K). And it was the first time I have won (been the only one in) my age group. Everyone got a medal and the age group prize was a mug. SportsTracks says I burned almost 4,000 calories and my average heartrate was 83% of my maximum.

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