Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Irongirl Atlanta Race

Sunday - May 20, 2012

The morning began at 4:30 am. I think I immediately turned to Andrea and asked if we really had to go through with this. The look on her face told me that there was no more sleep in my future! It didn't take long to get dressed and jump in the car. We got to the race site a few minutes after 5:00 am and it took us about 15 minutes to walk from the parking lot up the transition area.

Last year's race was a real learning experience. This year, I bought some extra clothes that I didn't mind leaving behind in order to stay warm. It was so cold last year, that the last thing that I wanted to do is spend 2 hours in the cold again. While it wasn't that cold this year, the clothes still made it more bearable.

My start time was a whole lot earlier than last year, too! The swim was started in waves based on age. It is based on the age you will be for the year. So even though technically I was still 34 years and 364 days old, I raced in the 35 to 39 age group. Which pushed me from last year's number of 1200-something to 593. Which meant a whole lot few people in front of me. Honestly, I think it really changed the way that the whole race went for me.

One of the official photos of the swim start
The swim was out and back around some buoys. My  plan from the beginning was to head out the left of the field for (hopefully) less traffic and an easier swim. It really worked out well for me. I barely had to deal with all the kicking, slapping, and drowning that typically happens at the beginning of the swim.It was the best swim I have ever experienced in a triathlon - relaxed, easy, and enjoyable!!!! Although you can't really tell from the picture, I was really pleased with the swim.

I'm in the back right corner
The transition to the bike was smooth and quick as compared to last year!

My helmet was crooked - apparently for the entire race!

The bike portion was really the focus of my race. Last year, I swam too hard and had trouble moderating my heart rate. So, I ended up walking up a hill pretty early in the bike portion (around 3.5 miles) and then again around 9 miles into the race. This year, my main focus was to RIDE up those hills. I was up the first hill that had given me trouble before I even realized that this was one of the hills!!

As always, there were some people that kept passing me and then I would pass again a few minutes later. One of those was a fellow TouchChik. She rode by and I yelled out "go Tough Chik" and paused before I yelled out "I'm one, too!" is a bit of a smaller and more pathetic voice. I must have passed her at some point because she came up beside me a few minutes later and said "You ARE a Tough Chik." I answered "No, I really am... I just didn't wear the tri top!" We chatted a bit and then all of a sudden, there it was. The second hill.

It was still a doozy. One lady couldn't clip out fast enough and tipped over to the right onto the grass. There were several moments when I didn't think I could do it. Or I would do it but cause a heart attack or stroke. I was huffing and puffing when I finally made it over that second hill. And then there were a few tears. I HAD DONE IT!!! I had a huge smile on my face for the rest of the 9 miles on the bike!!!
See... still crooked!
Next came the run. While I had been running, I had not been practicing the transition from bike to run. BIG mistake. My legs were jello and I just couldn't get them moving right. I slowed down to a walk and ended up befriending a couple of other people walk/running.

A rare good picture of me running
I ran the last mile in to the finish line and was all smiles.

I quickly met up with Andrea and then the Tough Chik I chatted with on the bike course. Her name is Charity and this was her first triathlon!

Happy Irongirls!
This year's results:

Swim 536 m (0:16:05 min) 3:03/100/m 242/53 
T1 (0:04:32 min) 
Bike 19 mi (1:15:16 min) 15.1/mph 432/85 
T2 (0:03:00 min) 
Run 3 mi (0:39:39 min) 13:13/mile 912/167 
Finish (2:18:32 min) 

Compare this to last year's results:

Swim (0:14:23 min) 

T1 (0:06:54 min) 
Bike 19 mi (1:31516 min) 

T2 (0:03:56 min) 
Run 3 mi (0:47:53 min) 

Finish (2:44:57 min) 

I believe that the swim was a bit longer this year than last year as everyone's times went up. I also really tried not to go out hard but rather use it as a warm-up and to relax.


Needless to say, I'm really happy. Super happy. So excited about doing triathlons now!!! THIS is the reason people race. I get it now!!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Atlanta Weekend Recap

What a great race weekend!!!

The weekend began on Friday morning when I picked up Andrea and we racked up the bikes on the back of my car and headed out of town. We had a rough start to the drive as the bikes weren't intially very secure on the bike rack. But we fiddled around and tied a few things down and then we were back on the road.

We met up with Ann Maria in Knoxville for a quick lunch before she headed to work. We got off the highway shortly after Knoxville and took a nice scenic route to get to Buford, GA (town near Lake Lanier and the triathlon.) It took FOREVER! Between the 45 minutes detour around a sinkhole on I75, the tractor trailer which we got stuck behind on the detour, and the motorcycles which seemed to go slower downhill than uphill through the national park, I was done with the drive by the time the thunderstorm hit. I think at that point, we still had about 3 more hours to drive! We finally made it to  Buford around 6 pm, unpacked, and headed to a really good local restaurant called Parma Tavern.  Mmmmmm.....

Saturday, we picked up the race packets and dropped off the bikes at the bike transition. I'm going to write a post all about the actual race, so I'm going to skimp on details about the race for another day. The check-in was very smooth. While we were waiting in line, Andrea ran into a blog-friend in line (SwimBikeMom, also known as Meredith.)

So, I'm relatively new to the blogging world. I don't have many friends yet who blog and I don't yet follow any one blog significantly enough where I would say that I *know* that person. Andrea has been blogging for far longer (and very successfully) and has been following SwimBikeMom for quite a long time, so meeting her in person was an opportunity that Andrea couldn't miss. More on this in a moment....

After the afternoon at Lake Lanier, we stopped in historic Buford for a lunch at a really cute restaurant t Aqua Terra (I think!) Their food was fantastic although the waitress was just a little strange. We headed back to the hotel and then drove a little bit into Atlanta to meet up with an old friend of Andrea's for dinner.

On the way to dinner, Andrea and I swung by my old house. I found it relatively easily. I was planning to head up the god-awful steep driveway but was stopped by two orange cones and a sign. There was a birthday party and the owners requested that everyone park at the bottom and walk up or wait for the shuttle :) For those of you who never visited me in Atlanta - yes, it really was that bad that a shuttle would be needed for the 50 yard driveway! So I snuck up the driveway next door and scared  Andrea a little bit. I still couldn't see much of the house but it was nice to just be back in the area.

Dinner was at Sage near Perimeter Mall with Andrea's friend (and her husband and adorable daughter.) It was good conversation and good food. A fantastic bread pudding for desert. Not the best pre-race nutrition but worth every bite!!!

There was more social hour the next day when we met up with other bloggers at Taco Maco after the race. That's when we met up with Meredith and more bloggers from the internet world. All were women (it was a woman's race, after all) and it was nice to be around a nice group of genuine women all with triathlons in common. All were connected to SwimBikeMom (again, her real name is Meredith - kinda funny how people's name changes over to their blog's name.) And lo and behold, two Tough Chiks aside from Andrea and myself were there. One (Charity) I ran into on the bike course. More on that later!!!

Andrea and I also popped over to the Mall of Georgia and did some shopping before having hibachi. I've been thinking about hibachi for weeks and Andrea treated me for my birthday. The restaurant was pretty quite so we were on one end of the table and two young (and good-looking men) were sitting on the other side. I had a tough time during dinner trying to figure out what to look at while we were eating. Right before we were done and getting ready to leave, a boy (around 10 to 12 years old) asked to have his picture taken when one of those yummy-looking men. We have no idea who the guy was (and too embarrassed to ask.) I figured out later that they probably interpreted my awkward avoidance of eye contact as some semblance of being star-struck. Nope, I'm really that just awkward sometimes :) Andrea and I stopped off for some local handmade ice cream as desert before falling asleep EARLY! At least, I did. I think Andrea listened to my snoring for a little bit before going to sleep herself.

The drive back to Lexington was relatively uneventful. We ran into some more thunderstorms, one of two of which really were severe with some crazy rain.It was my birthday, so I was serenaded by the typical family happy-birthday singing (which I love!!)

Race report (with pictures!) is soon to come!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Final Reflections before THE weekend

Andrea and I will be heading out to Atlanta tomorrow - the race is Sunday morning. I have to say, I'm still really excited about the weekend!!! Some time away, my first long trip with my new car, and going to face some obstacles head on!

Am I worried... I'll be honest. Yes. My back is acting up in spasms today and hopefully heat and ibuprofen in the next few days will get it race ready. There's also the little voice in the back of my head wondering if I've put enough time into training to conquer the hills.

But all that's ok. That's life and the show must go on, as they say!

Off to pack and get ready!!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Another boost in confidence

This morning ended up being an incredible morning for a bike ride. Sadly, Andrea was out of commission for today and I had a choice to go for a bike ride by myself (the first time EVER) or go swim instead. I settled for a ride by myself.

I headed out from my home into the country roads outside of Lexington. It was beautiful - sunny and coolish. The animals were out...I saw baby horses (yes, I know they're foals,) some turkey vultures, cows, alpaca, and all sorts of birds.

I also high underestimated the hilliness of the ride. BUT, it was likely the best thing that could have happened to me considering I'm only a few weeks away from the dreaded Atlanta hills. There were sooo many hills today that I know I have the conditioning to make it up any hill that comes my way!!

Now I'm off to celebrate the college graduation of a colleague's daughter -  a great day all in all!!