Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chesapeakeman Race Report

I have so much to say that I will have a few posts to accommodate.  This one will be strictly the "race report."

To start MY race report, I have to rewind 2 weeks. I fell on my last long training ride.  I didn't think much of it at the time but as I started to pedal I noticed that I lost my top 3-4 gears.  CRAP, I fell on the derailleur. I skinned my knee, jammed my aero armrest into my rib-cage  and twisted my other knee.  A normal person would have been done with the knee thing, but my EDS has some good qualities! Like that twisted knee was just annoying.  A day later I was informed I tore my deltoid ,  This coupled with my ear infection (See When it Rains) made for a stressful week of NO training and stress that I wouldn't make it.

Work has been from hell and I was also worried that I wouldn't be able to get away. So Wednesday at 3PM I shut the phone, laptop and never turned it back on until Monday.  I figured what I didn't know wouldn't  hurt me.

We arrived at the Hyatt on Thurs afternoon, after a miserable commute that included stopped traffic for miles through NYC.  EDS is such a pain in the ass in the car.  I can ride my bike for a hundred miles, but make me sit in the car.. OUCH!  Well we were there and that hotel is amazing.  I don't know if I'd justify the expense for the convenience of the race though, since you had to drive to the race site.   There were plenty of other hotels in the area.

I quickly went to packet pickup and got myself settled. So far I wasn't excited  nervous, it was just another race.  It was rather odd for me.

Chesapeakeman has the best swag I must say! Visor, bento box, arm sleeves, race belt, bag, T-shirt (not shown)...eh and a water bottle.  The Ultra athletes's bags were better, they got a long sleeve race jersey and a finisher tshirt at the end, but oh well, this is still pretty cool.

On Thursday night they had a 'carb' dinner that was included in registration.  Turns out it was not just for athletes, it was just in the restaurant.  It would have been nice to have all athletes in a room, but we made due.  I met Sharon in packet pickup.  When we arrived at dinner she flagged us to her large table and we collected other athletes as they came in. I will write an entirely separate post about the characters we met! Suffice it to say we met the BEST people.  I love the triathlon community!

During dinner we discussed doing a practice swim on Friday.  I would have gone at sunrise, but the rest wanted to go out later.  We agreed on 8AM.  I'm glad now too because I watched an amazing sunrise from the hotel.

We drove about 13 min from the hotel to the park.  All I see is flat, calm, gorgeous water.  I thought 'hmmm this is called the Choptank River, would this last through tomorrow?'

We met several more athletes that day.  We gabbed and gabbed! I even met a woman who has EDS and is an ultra triathlete!  Small world!

We went for a nice swim, then a relaxing 15 min ride. It really was beautiful, my arm didn't hurt, ears were fine. I thought "It's going to be a good race."

I then went back to the hotel and packed my 2 transition bags.  I have to say that is stressful.  What goes in the bike bag? what do I need to keep here?  how do I pack my nutrition appropriately, don't forget this, that, ..AHHHH ! I need a drink!

All of the race staff and volunteers were so helpful and sweet. That did help this stress a little.  We racked our bikes, and actually kept our bike bag until the AM.  This was quite nice too, as I needed to add my refrigerated nutrition to my bike shirt in the AM. For Providence 70.3 we had to leave the bike bag the night before and essentially 'cook' our nutrition for the day.

It's funny just how fast a pre-race day goes!  Suddenly it was dinner time, then BED.   I continued to keep an eye on the weather and the WINDS.  Apparently this course can get quite windy.  

I woke up around 2, but the alarm was set for 3:45.  I didn't feel well.. GREAT! spare the details but let's say I didn't want to eat ANYTHING that AM for fear of needing to pack 2 pair of bike shorts. I opted to not eat my normal bagel and I kept a PB and J to eat.

We drove about 5 minutes down the road to the high school, which is the location for the first loop of the bike, bike special needs, T2 and my finish line for aquabike.  We then boarded a schoolbus that took us for a 10 min ride to the swim start.  They dropped us off about 1/4 mile away!  I wasn't very happy about that, not that I can't walk 1/4 mile but I had annoying bags with me. - Oh well!  

We get closer to the water and see this.....

Yea the wind was kicked up so much that I couldn't even get a clear picture of the flag STANDING STRAIGHT OUT! CRAP! It was dark so it was hard to see the water, but you could hear the waves crashing into the rocks.  One volunteer said "eh it's just surface chop." 

I set up my bike, checked my tires, and checked my bag!  I guess that's that, we're doing this!

As the sun came up, the water was bad but not what I expected when I HEARD it earlier.  The chop did not cover your head, it was this constant little splash and if you have large dogs you can relate: while swimming it felt like the dog was on the bed breathing too hard.

So time was approaching and we made our way to the start. You walk down this slippery boat ramp and walk/swim to the 'in water start.'

I made my way to outside front and found most of my new friends there as well.  The field was only a few hundred, so it wasn't like a MDot race but it was still pretty exciting for me. 

I couldn't hear anything from the DJ, so I wasn't aware of the countdown. Suddenly people were swimming. I guess we're OFF!!!!  

As you can imagine, the start is hectic, arms, legs, feet everywhere.  I quickly found a lane and was able to swim.  So I'm a not very emotional person, but a few times especially looking around and seeing a few hundred people about to test their mental and physical strength and I would get choked  up. Then I would yell at my self, DON'T FOG YOUR GOGGLES! 

The swim felt awesome, it wasn't boring, or feel like soup.  I wasn't fond of the jetski exhaust but it wasn't constant and I know they need to be there.  It also wasn't free from swimming collisions.  One dude kept hitting me (note there is room here), then I thought "well maybe I'm being stupid?!?" only to stand up and see him PUNCH a buoy TWICE. uh dude, that's not moving out of your way no matter how much you punch it.  There were the normal bumps, hookups, kicks, but there was one that was pretty annoying to me!  Around the start, where we turn and do a lap, you can stand and WALK. MANY MANY people were doing this.  Ok fine.  Well, I wanted to swim. These two dudes were TALKING and WALKING. I was between them and they just kept at my side and kept getting closer to each other, eventually running into me.  Ok for real? I think if I"m swimming and you're walking, I have the right of way. I eventually just turned on the burn and got away from them. 

I expected a 1:50 on the swim.  I usually pace to 1:40 but with the torn deltoid I expected longer.  I was so excited to see 1:37 on that clock when I came out.  I beat my expectations by 13 minutes IN THE CHOP!  I came up the ramp and there was this odd firehose spraying  cold ass water!  I needed to rinse but not there so I just went by.  The volunteers were shouting out "what's your number?" so they could give you your bike bag. I went to yell mine but a volunteer had ran out to me before I could even open my mouth.  Nice!  I guess that's the difference of sleeves vs sleeveless wetsuits, they can see my number!

Into the changing tent.  This was a new experience for me, actually changing my clothing for a race.  If you are shy, get over i!  I get a kick out of people in locker rooms that must go to the stall to change, well here.. forget it, you're SOL LOL!  

I rinsed myself, got most of my clothing on, and noticed a woman struggling with her bra. You know that point where it's rolled and stuck behind you and you must be a contortionist (or have EDS) to get it undone? so I went to help her.  She was thankful and in disbelief that I helped, as its a "race" ( like that extra 40 seconds is going to matter).

I exited the tent, found my bike and was off!  I still couldn't believe I was doing this. Holy SHIT!  wow!

I exited the park and was off. The first 35 miles were pretty awesome. I was averaging 17.5.  I passed a couple people.  The course is a 10 mile out and back finger, then you loop into a wildlife refuge.  Then I felt the wind.  ugh, slowing!!!!.. I was able to keep my average to 16.5 for the first 60 miles. Now, for some reading this it may not seem like much, but last year I was riding at 10-11 mph. 

I knew I should stop at a portopotty at some point. They were very convenient along the way, but always a line.  I wanted every minute to be ON the bike.  I finally saw this one! EMPTY!  YEA. (No I didn't stop to take a pic, John just happened to take a pic of the same one).

 I was excited, I continued to grin and occasionally get choked up, I AM REALLY DOING THIS!  Then I started to do the math.... let me tell you, you do LOTS of math on long races. "If I pace to this, I will have this time, if I don't do this.."-- then I kept thinking, this is a small field I could place.. PUSH PUSH PUSH!   

I think this is about the time I encountered the percussion massager gone mad!  This one stretch of road was so bumpy!  It wasn't like the pothole crap up in New England, it was just reverberating EVERYTHING. It went on for what seemed like 2 miles.  I have no idea how long it was, but I knew I would see it again!

This sign was along the route.  It HAD to be the vibrating road (or the wind). UGH that wind!  I pushed through it, even though it was a 'loop' we had a headwind for 90% of it.  I hate climbing and I figured it was just me.  I was honestly SO happy to hear other athletes whining about the horrible wind.  One guy did this race 6x and said it was the worst wind he's seen. AWESOME, that's doable for me.  Really I guess I'm psycho.  That wind SUCKED but it really made me feel better to see that I wasn't  the only one suffering.

I kept up on my hydration, nutrition, that was the hard part. You just want to look around, or in some spots get as small as you can and pedal.  You never stop pedaling, which is fine for me but other types of riders hate this. I had to remind myself to get up every 15-20 min.  Once, I got up and my aerobar pad fell off.. uh, I need that!  I thought about what was in my pockets.  Bandaid? hm .. OH KTTAPE!  so while Riding I KT TAPED my aerobar pad back on. 

 The scenery was pretty, I enjoyed the ride and would DEFINITELY ride that loop if I lived in the area.

There was a point that I was pushing through the wind and was trying to stay motivated. I saw my avg  drop .1...another .1.. that wind was taking its toll!  So I started to sing.

First little kids songs: (note we HAVE NO KIDS)!.. 
  • "baby beluga in the deep blue sea, swims so wide and he swims so free... "
  • "Rubber Ducky, you're the one... "
  • "5 little ducks went out one day, over the hills and far away mother duck said QUACK QUACK QUACK QUACK"....

Then I moved onto rap.. yea Beastie Boys Paul Revere.. (Andrea thought of you and swimming in NC) "The sun is beating down on my baseball HAAAAT.. "

Then onto TV show theme songs:
  • "we're a moving on up.. to the east side.. do a deluxe apartment in the sky... "
  • "you take the good you take the bad you take them both and there ya have...."
I was just waiting for a rider to pass me and hear me singing LOUDLY and POORLY!.. 

EH!  oh well.

I eventually came into the last stretch.  Up until about mile 80 I though "hm I can do this, I am pacing to 7 something, I can totally walk a marathon." Then that wind, my feet hurt, I just wanted  to eat something NOT SO DAMN SWEET,I thought "I'm glad I'm only doing the swim and bike."

I finally rounded the corner to dismount.  I thought the arches were the finish line. I was a little disappointed at the finish, everyone that came off the bike went through here so volunteers were back and fourth getting bikes, yelling numbers and I was a little confused on where to go. You had to turn left to run a little bit to get to the timing mat.  That and they yelled "go over there and get your medal." Boo.. it was up over a curb and a volunteer just handed it to me from behind a table.  Another one asked me for my chip.  I felt fine,but athletes should NOT bend over to get the chip after working out for 7-8 hours.

Then I saw VAL!  She was the first IRONMAN ATHENA  I ever wrote about.  She drove 2 hrs to come see me!  Awesome finish.

I went in to sign up for my massage and have something NOT SWEET to eat.  All they had were cookies, fig newtons and bananas.  I thought this was odd considering even small races I do have food, burgers, something of substance.  Oh well I was still on a high from finishing probably the most I'll be able to do for an 'Ironman distance.'  The little things don't matter. I wish I had a finish line that was like the others, no other people in my way. Dismount flag not there. And even an announcer.  I am DFL so often that I NEVER hear my name, I was excited to hear it this time.. nope.

I had an awesome massage!  That was worth the wait!  Then I went to the other end of the lot to watch the apparent "real" finish line.  I saw they received finisher shirts, again bummed but I guess that's the difference between aquabike and ultra.  

I knew I missed the awards ceremony, as it was completed before I even finished. I didn't consider myself THAT slow this time either.  I believe they should have the aquabike awards on Sunday like the Ultra! That way everyone can attend!  I eventually went over to see what my official standing was., they hadn't bothered to post the Aquabike final results (2 hours earlier was the last posted finish). I went into the timing tent and asked. 

 I WON!  seriously I beat 2nd place by 24 minutes.  That NEVER happens, I never 'win' anything. If I'm going to win, this surely was the one to do it! Then the woman apologetically says "I'm so sorry, they took the awards back." (not sure where). But ok I get it, I didn't make it back in under 8 hours so  I missed the ceremony.  THEN she tells me "I am SOOO sorry, they gave your award to 2nd place." - uh WHAT? The staff was super sweet and couldn't believe this happened.

I really couldn't be that mad either because that's just what happens to me.  Looking at the results too, I beat 2nd place on the swim AND the bike. The only thing she beat me on was transition, and that time was probably where I helped  a fellow athlete fix her bra!

They told me it was the only glitch of the day, ok fine. I'll take it, seriously that's me.  They're going to mail me one, and they let me take pictures with another one.  I wish they had a banner to take pics with too.. another thing I never have access to!

The sad thing is this was the LAST race where I can race Athena.  I have to go age group next year where I have ZERO hope, especially since I move up to 40-44!  

Other than that,  I felt really good.  I wasn't in too much pain, just normal achy joints.  I hydrated and fueled well, but I was HUNGRY! I really could have used food!  They eventually had some come at like 5 or 6.. but by that time I was headed back to the hotel to take a shower. 

All in all, it was an awesome race.  Dumb glitches, stupid wind, and a few logistical things I would change, but I would definitely do it again.  

As a matter of fact.. who's in for next year?

Thanks Tri Columbia!

***Thank you to John my Trisherpa for hauling around for 18 hours, taking pictures, finding friends, and just lugging crap around!  You rock****

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  1. This is AWESOME Laura!!!!!!! A big hug and congratulations to you!!!!!!

  2. I know that bumpy section of road, I kept trying to drink out of my aero bar bottle, I almost got the straw through the top of my mouth. Hopefully next year is more like 2010, beautiful, sunny, warm, flat water. Awesome.

    And why won't you be racing athena anymore?

    1. Tara, they changed the category. 165+ for Athena starting next year.