Sunday, July 20, 2008

Race Report: Asheville Triathlon

Short form:
103 out of 123 women
swim 400 meters 00:11:26
T1 00:02:32
bike 11.6 miles 00:49:34
T2 00:01:55
run 5k 00:46:13
total time 01:51:39

Long form:
I decided to do the Asheville Triathlon because a friend was looking for a triathlon to do and it was the one that fit both of our schedules. And it is a lot closer than most of the ones in the South Carolina series. Asheville is a new triathlon in the Set Up Events Tri-Sports Triathlon Development Series--they have two series in North Carolina and this is the less competitive one.

I took much of the month of June off from training because of travel, and generally my training has been far from what it was last year. My husband's diagnosis with Parkinson's disease and Lewy Body Dementia has shifted a significant part of my time and energy, and the stress of facing that future has caused weight gain and higher blood sugar. I do keep pretty faithful to a little over an hour of exercise almost every day, if only because I need it to manage stress and fight depression, and I'm taking a herbal supplement that has helped the stress reactions.

So I went to the race with low expectations, but looking forward to the chance to just focus on a race. My friend and her family spent the day before the race in Asheville; I met her at the hotel Saturday evening to go to the pre-race meeting and drive the bike course. It was not encouraging--at the meeting they kept promising traffic control at several difficult intersections and when we drove the bike course we got lost and the roads seemed very narrow and windy.

I enjoyed being in a hotel room alone, but woke up a bit early. We had breakfast in my hotel room and then headed to the race location about 5:30. It was dark still but we had lots of time to set up. I tested out my bike but it was too chilly to do a swim warmup.

We were in the bathroom when we realized we needed to hurry because transition would close for the race start at 7 am. I have to leave my glasses in transition and put on my prescription googles in order to be able to see anything. Actually, we enjoyed watching the fastest swimmers and didn't have too long to wait, as we went off at 7:15 and 7:16.

I prefer lake swims to pool swims but it was nice to be in an outdoor pool at least. I had forgotten that because it was a seeded start rather than a wave start we wouldn't get swim caps, and I didn't bring one. I've come to prefer swimming with a cap, but once I started swimming I didn't notice my hair in my face, I just tried to keep up my pace and keep aware of people around me at the same time. I passed one or two people, was passed by more. I've only swum in 50 meter pools twice, both for races, and so it doesn't feel very natural.

The bike route was much hillier than I expected (my GPS isn't very reliable for elevation but it says about 900 feet cumulative climb in 11 miles). I saw people walking their bikes on several hills. I wasn't going much faster than they were up the last bad hill, but I rode it. I had great fun because with the wider range of people in this race and a start seeded by swim times I passed lots of people. One man and I passed back and forth five or six times. He was a master clydesdale but I was still faster downhill--I guess my small aerobars give me that much advantage. He was stronger than I was uphill but he walked on that last bad hill. There were some tight downhill turns but the roads were lovely and empty and while I braked a little on a few of them I felt fast and confident.

I haven't gotten any faster on the run, but it wasn't as bad as I feared from how my training times have slipped. I had noticed a woman in my age group I thought I could beat and she passed me on the run, which was discouraging. But it did help me keep my pace up to try not to let her and the man from the bike get away from me, though I didn't succeed. The wonderful thing about the run course was that it was almost entirely shaded, and it was still fairly cool. I did have a sprint left for the finish.

I stiffened up fast after the race, which made me feel that I had put in a good effort. My average heart rate was 87% on the bike and 83% on the run. I'm happy about it, if only because for a whole half a day I didn't think about the issues that face me and my husband.

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