Monday, August 15, 2011

Race Report: Luray Sprint

Ok- this race was a long time coming, and I wasn't sure it would ever happen, so this will be a long race report. It has been a rough year. Some of you know all of my medical issues and injuries, which have been frustrating and emotional at times. Ultimately, I am just thankful that I could race this season.

Goal for the race: Finish (Being someone who needs a more concrete goal, I wanted to finish within 2 hours)

Things I knew going into the race:
1. My swim fitness is not anywhere near where it needs to be, but I will get there.
2. I was really looking forward to rocking my new Kestrel on the bike course.
3. I needed to win the mental game on the run.

The weather forecast was not good (50% chance of thunderstorms all morning). It was overcast and raining when I left home at 4am for the 2 hour drive to Luray. The rain was intermittent, but the fog going up over the winding mountain road was enough to get me nervous.

I checked in and got racked. (I was at the far end of a rack in a less-than-optimal spot). I had a trash bag to set my gear on (folded in half so I could cover my gear if it rained and at least keep my shoes a little dry). It was during transition set-up that I realized the value of those pre-race "I forgot my [insert important item here]" dreams. It lets you work out all the anxiety. I didn't have any pre-race dreams, and therefore was really worried I was forgetting something.

I think I was the only person praying the race wasn't wetsuit legal. I have an incredible TYR Cat 5 wetsuit, but hadn't ever tried it on (after all of my issues this year, I wanted to get back to "fighting weight" before trying it on). Wouldn't you know- wetsuit legal race. I got the most fantastic pre-race pep talk from Tommy (who was headed home from working a 24 hour shift). He reminded me that this season should be about determining what I need to work on for next year, and not about finishing fast.

I got into the wetsuit, and it fit like a glove! My only race injury was self inflicted, when I punched myself in the jaw while pulling up the sleeve of my wetsuit (slippery sucker).

The Swim:
750m- 18:57 (28/39 AG)
Yes- that was a horrendous swim. Thanks to my awesome teammate Andree, I just finished reading "I'm Here to Win" by Chris McCormack (2010 Ironman World Champion). One of his phrases (my favorite from the book) is "embrace the suck". Essentially, there is a part of every race that sucks. Know it, and embrace it.

My first 25-50 meters seemed great. The wetsuit was fantastic, I was swimming along, but there was lots of contact. Then I felt this incredible fatigue in my arms. I know I haven't been swimming long distances, but what the heck?! I was ready to quit before the first buoy. Then I started breast-stroking. Not leisurely breast-stroking, but I'm going to hunt down some slow freestylers kind of swimming. Periodically I tried to swim freestyle, but for some reason it didn't work. I knew I was fatiguing my legs, and by the last leg of the triangle-shaped swim I was doing all freestyle. I don't know what happened here, other than the fact that I need to get my act together and swim A LOT more. I think the swim time included the run across the beach and up the stairs to transition, but I'm not sure.

T1(2:28, 11/39)- I was exhausted from the swim, and honestly had a hard time getting my legs out of the wetsuit. After that, I got my helmet and shoes on quickly and ran out on the bike (I was about as far from the "bike out" as you could get).

Bike 17 miles (1:03:42, avg 16mph, 11/39)
I raced the Luray Olympic two years ago, so I knew the course. The bike has a lot of false flats, and a couple of good hills. It also has some fantastic flats and downhills that were awesome on my tri bike. I passed several of the women in my age group, and no one from my AG passed me, so I considered that a "win". I don't have a computer on my tri bike yet, so I was going purely by how I felt, and estimated distance/time. The last hill is wicked (and I am learning how to tackle hills on a tri bike vs my road bike), but having Team Z there cheering everyone on was a huge help. I passed one girl right before the turn back into the park. I felt a little bad about this, but it wasn't an unsafe pass and I didn't think I should hold back just because we were nearing the end of the bike.

T2: (1:35, 21/39) Not sure what took so long here, except a long run with my bike in transition, and getting used to the laces on my Avia Bolts.

The Run: (28:44, 18/39)
The run is where I tend to lose the mental battle. It is an out and back, with a few decent hills in each direction. I told myself I would not walk. I pushed hard to the turnaround. I pushed up the hills (thinking of Andree's feedback when we ran together in Puerto Rico). I knew I was on target to make my goal of completing under 2 hours. I made it to the turnaround, and past the two mile mark. I had First Endurance Liquid Shot with me for a little oomph. One on of the hills, I felt something in the bottom of my shoe (I thought a stone). Stopping was the biggest mistake EVER. I had to fight hard not to walk after that, as my right glute (which gives me trouble because of arthritis in my pelvis) kept tightening up. I did walk a couple of short sections, and wished I had never stopped. Again, the crowd definitely motivated me. At 2.9 miles I thought I was going to vomit or pass out for sure, then at 3 miles I made the last turn and something clicked. I sprinted the finish (I actually passed a woman right before the finish- she was 1 second behind me in the results). It was nice to see Ashley (awesome Rev3 staffer) and Krista from She Does Tri at the finish. :)

It wasn't pretty, but I definitely embraced "the suck". I was glad Tommy was home watching the kids, but definitely wished he was there for a hug at the finish line. He has been by my side through so much this year, and finishing this race was huge for me. I almost cried, but instead plopped down in one of the kiddie pools they had filled with ice. :) This is a great race. (Small town feel, minimal swag, but nice venue and nice people).

Final Result: 1:55:23, 13/39 in my age group, and gloriously happy to have been able to race in 2011.


  1. Congrats Kier!! It must feel so good to RACE!! I LOVED that Macca book btw. AND I HATE IT when my glute gets all tight, it freaking kills. I know that little muscle too well.

    Great job, congrats again!

  2. So glad you are back in the saddle after such a year. Great job, sistah!

  3. Yay!! Congrats on getting your tri on again! I know this was so mental for you! Proud, proud, proud of you!

  4. I'm so sad I wasn't there to cheer you in : ( But I'm also so very proud of you for jumping back in there and getting it done!!!

  5. So awesome!! Way to get out there and at it again!!! I'm so excited for you!! Wahooo!!! :)

  6. I'm way behind in blog reading and trying to catch up! :) Congrats Kier... and it's alright to embrace the suck... I do it all too often! You did fabulous my dear!

  7. Congratulations on getting out there and getting it done.

    I like to look at 50% chance at thunderstorms as a 50% chance everything is going to be kick ass.

  8. Welcome back to racing! So proud of your for "embracing the suck."

    And I got some LOLs from you punching yourself in the face. ;-)

  9. Way to get back to it and embrace the suck! Lord knows we have all know that suck part at times!