Here’s a race report from Kelly Hoose-Johnson. She is new to triathlons and is going from zero to 60 this year. Her first sprint was this last spring and in November she’ll be going for it all at Ironman Arizona in Tempe. Read her blog for fun stories, clever writing, and see her progress from race to race. We are very proud of Kelly and love seeing her at RaceTri events.
I’m notoriously bad at writing timely race reports, but my impressions of a race on race-day are different than when I’ve had time to sleep and think and recover and forget.
I thought it would be fun to do this today to keep me honest.
And honestly, just a few hours later, my impressions are already much … softer … than they were as I was putting my body and soul on the line this morning.
Camp Yuba was my last scheduled triathlon before IMAZ, though it’s only the start of my hardest training yet.
Last night I felt calm.
Compared to my first basket-case Olympic triathlon in July, merely 8 weeks ago, evidently I’m a different person.
Not so different that I did substantially better time-wise. But different enough that I was generally more at peace doing it.
I improved in some areas and devolved in others. All in all, I was a total of 12-minutes faster than I was 2 months ago over the same distances.
One big difference was that this was the first triathlon (and only the second race) where I had supporters with me. It was so nice to have Jeff and Bridgette come! In fact, I lost a few seconds here and there enjoying and interacting with them, but it was totally worth it.
So let’s go back to last night and distill this event sequentially.
Camp Yuba Tri was at Yuba State Park, approximately 85 miles from home. The drive down was lovely.
We stayed in a hotel (and by a hotel, I mean the hotel) in Scipio — a town in which there is a Subway that no one staffs, so you can’t get a sandwich.
It’s pretty small.
You know your tri is out in the middle of nowhere when the Park Ranger says, “There isn’t a sign on your way back, so turn at the big tire.”
Scipio is a 10 mile drive from the Camp Yuba start line at the main boat dock, so all 5 of us bunked down in a king-size bed for a night of peaceful slumber.
Wait. Five of us?
Even the dogs.
In one bed.
By the way, thiiiiis did not work out so well.
All the youngsters seemed to need to be touching me at all times. It’s like I’m a magnet. Mommy-magnet.
It’s just the way things are.
No doubt they kept me extra cuddly warm, pinned into 2 square feet like that. But the trouble really started when the dogs couldn’t adapt.
They are hyper-vigilant and felt compelled to warn our pack of possible dangers by barking every time they heard a voice or a door snapping shut.
In a hotel.
It wasn’t long before the dogs were locked in the car.
This left only my daughter mashed up against my face or back or stomach or legs the entire night.
An acceptable though slightly uncomfortable arrangement.
Personally, I had a night full of the worst nightmares. They included Bridgette wandering dark streets alone, and everyone in my family being beaten mercilessly by a rogue band of gorillas.
But let’s face it, nightmares mean I was sleeping occasionally! That’s what really counts, right?
In the morning we had too many people/dogs to sort and organize, so we headed out *much* later than I had planned.
It was stressful. Me no likey.
Despite this, I got an excellent transition spot right by the bike in/out area. Not sure how that happened.
I hurried through my body-marking, bike check, chip pick-up, and transition layout and headed to the pre-race meeting late.
As I put on my wetsuit at the meeting, I started to get nervous. Tight stomach. Shallow, rapid breathing.
Though maybe it was constriction. Those wetsuits are not forgiving.
Race meeting in the background.
As the meeting ended and they announced the starting waves, I realized how few people I’d be racing against.
116 people were doing the Sprint tri, a small group.
But there were only 80 people in the Olympic distance race.
And of the 80, there were only 16 women. Not just 16 women in my age-group. 16 women total. All age-groupers plus Athenas.
We moved down the boat dock to the water.
I think that’s me with my arm high, second from the front, but I’m not totally sure.
Swim is my best event, so I really tried to swim hard and strong.
I’d never done that before!
Every other open-water race (count ’em … two!) I’ve arranged myself at the back of the pack and paced off a slow, easy stroke and observed.
This time I decided to just … go for it.
I came in 5th of 16 in the swim!
I was also faster than about half the men. I know this is braggy, but it’s the only thing I have to brag about. So I’m just going for that, too.
The women who beat me pulled ahead early, in the first few seconds.
I passed one of them back eventually and managed to keep the others behind me the whole time. I also passed plenty of men who had each begun in waves starting between 2-4 mins before me.
It was also the first time I’ve been kicked in the face. Really hard.
It was both surprising and painful.
I came up short my nose and cheekbones throbbing. He came up short, too, and apologized. It was an accident of course. It was bound to happen sometime. Now I know what it feels like.
The swim course was a big, slightly obtuse triangle. Obtuse, I say!
The first point of the triangle was an orange cylindrical buoy close to the dock. I think you can see it in the photos in which we’re wading into the water.
The next was an orange pyramid buoy, and you can see that one in the photo of me and Bridgette checking out the course, pre-race.
The third buoy is pictured above.
I swam around this large triangle twice. The water was deep. There was no walking.
The hardest part of the swim portion for me is that I go in cold. Not because the water is cold so much, though that doesn’t help, but because my body isn’t awake.
Swimming is a hard way to warm-up in a long workout because, as my heart-rate and breath-rate increase, it’s challenging to have my face in the lake.
I don’t breathe water very well.
My body wants immediate, regular, panting gulps of air — can’t get them of course — so my legs start to burn from oxygen deprivation. And until I get warmed-up, I kind of (really) want to stop swimming.
(This might be most people’s biggest problem with swimming. They stop when they should just keep going. That, or they fight the water instead of gliding on it.)
My first 1/2 mile was slower than my second 1/2 mile as I tried to regulate my body and get in rhythm. I get faster as I go further.
I had few mental sighs when I swam slightly off course which meant I’d wasted those strokes plus gone extra distance. I usually sight fast and maintain a straight line pretty naturally, so I’m not sure why I pulled off a couple of times.
In the home-stretch I swam in feeling like … well. Like I’d just swum a mile and then got kicked in the face.
Which I had.
Yet unlike my normal head-talk which is short and positive (at first) a la, “Stay strong, Kel,” I found myself chatting to myself like an English gentleman. So I was obviously still calm and okay.
“Swim your own strokes in tried and true fashion. Don’t let circumstances dissuade you.”
I’m not kidding.
I was all like, glide glide glide …
“Maintain your natural rhythm, maximize efficiency, ignore external factors. Circumvent the zig-zagging man.”
Full sentences. Lots of syllables.
Later, in the run, I was like, “!%*!? the bleepity ^&#*! Uh-huh. Yeah. And bleep #@!# if I’m *%& another step up this hill!!!!”
I did reference devolving above. It’s not always purely physical.
But I get ahead of myself.
Swim time 32:50.
I emerged stripping my wetsuit and was greeted by my very own very special Supergirl.
I honestly thought my first transition was fast. And compared to the EIGHT MINUTES I took at Echo (my first and only other wetsuit transition), it was.
But at 2:52 it was certainly nothing to brag about. Or cry about.
Room for improvement.
So then I was off for my little 25 mile bike ride.
Back at the hotel, a woman had told me the bike portion was as flat as a pancake.
Remind me not to eat breakfast at her house cuz thems were some mighty lumpy pancakes!
The Sprint portion was fairly flat, so must have been what she raced. But the Olympic included 19 miles of mostly gradual but unrelenting hills. On some rough potholed roads.
I definitely need to work on my uphills. But as I slowed down going up, I took the opportunity to drink and GU and try not to let my hydration or electrolytes slide.
On the flip side (of the pancake?) there was one decent descent, and I flew down that sucker. I don’t actually know my speed, but I’m going with… super duper fast!
I bet it was around 35 mph.
You scoff. But I’m totally holding up my Scouts honor fingers right now.
If only that downhill had lasted longer!
No pics on the bike course, but if I get any (like official ones or what-not) I’ll post them here later.
Hammies got tight, breathing hard for sure (and coughing a lot through the whole race — really need to figure this out), but otherwise I felt good coming into transition.
Second transition 2:06.
I miss my Pearl Izumi isoTransitions.
Zero laces. Way less time.
At the end of the bike, I thought I might have been in the top 6 Olympic-female. Legit. After the swim and the bike I was in reasonable standing.
NO. LET ME SUM UP.
Place 2 (of 2)
Place 69 (of 80)
Though honestly disappointed by my run time, as Bridgette repeatedly pointed out, I got a medal.
So, really? It was a good day.