Friday, October 09, 2009

Tri-ing to be Pleasant in Pleasant Prairie

I did the Danskin Triathlon in Pleasant Prairie, WI, a couple of weeks ago. I decided to do this race because my sister, Cindy, signed up, and also because I thought it would be a good way to help curb a post-TransRockies slump. I thought by having a different type of goal, adding in swimming and cycling, would be a good idea to help me recover from the run. Well, as the weeks passed by, the slump was in full force and while I was running a little, I just didn't feel like getting to a spin class (my main form of bike training) and blew off swimming, too. So, aside from doing recovery (slow) runs, I had just one swim and one spin class under my belt for preparation. Niiiiiiiice.

Needless to say, I had very low expectations for this race, and instead of being excited about it, I was downright crabby about it -- like having that full-on dread, annoyance, and the feelings of a kid stomping his feet on the ground screaming "I don't wanna!!!" The only good thing was that Cindy was doing well in her training and I was looking forward to seeing her cross the finish line. I'm so proud of her getting back into running, post-baby, and reaching all sorts of new milestones.

On Saturday, we went to packet pickup, racked our bikes so we wouldn't have to worry about them in the morning, and then grabbed a bite to eat before heading back to Cindy's to spend the night. That night turned out to be a rough one because of noisy neighbors and the fact that I was pretty nervous about my lack of preparation. When the alarm went off at 4:15am, my crabby mood had not changed at all. Ugh.

We left Cindy and Mike's as a convoy to make the 40min drive to the race. We had to take a couple of detours because of blocked-off roads, but we finally made it to the parking area where they were shuttling everyone to the start area over a mile away. Cindy and I got on a shuttle and we left Brian, Cindy's husband, Mike, and their three kids there to take a later shuttle as time was getting a little tight. Cindy and I got our stuff set up in transition and then we headed over to the start to meet up with our cheerleaders.

The elite race started at 7:00am. My wave was scheduled for 7:37, and Cindy's was 7:43. The time flew by and pretty soon I was zipping up my wetsuit, putting on my swimcap and goggles, and walking over to line up with my wave, near the back. Alright, let's get this sucker done! I spotted Brian just outside the start area, waved and smiled, and tried to psych myself up a little bit. :-) After some encouraging words from the announcer, off we went!

Before the swim

Waving to Brian before the start

Swim - 800m, 17:32

The water was not nearly as cold as I remember it being a few weeks back. Still, I had to do a bit of breaststroke until I could get my breathing under control. Ugh, breathing! The wetsuit, which I haven't worn since 2004, fits just fine but I am not used to the compression feeling. I try to calm down and just move forward, towards the single tree at the swim finish that I use as a visual guide. I start going into freestyle, and I can only manage a handful of strokes before I lift my head fully above the water to swim the "freestyle with head above water" way of swimming (ick, bad freestyle). Oh well, whatever works. I alternate between decent freestyle and bad freestyle, making sure I stay ahead of the noodle swimmers. Yes, being a feel-good type of triathlon, there are "swim angels" and floaty noodles that racers can use to help with the swim. Luckily, in spite of my total lack of training, I didn't need these aids. :-) Finally, I get to the swim finish, run out onto the sand, hit my watch split and am seriously stunned that I swam under 20min. I thought it would be a lot slower!

T1 - 4:28 There I Fixed It
Now thankfully done with the swim, I ran to the aisle I thought my bike was in...only to be off by one aisle. Doh! Luckily I only lost a few seconds as I scrambled to get to my bike. Off with the swim gear, put on the socks, shoes, shirt, adjust my ponytail...SNAP!...goes my hair band. (Too bad I didn't have a twist tie like this gal, LOL!) Oops! Hmm, ok, I frantically twist my hair and stuff it haphazardly in my helmet. I then grabbed my bike and ran to the bike start. 

Bike - 20k (12.4mi), 48:48 - 13.5mph
I haven't ridden my bike since my last triathlon back in June 2007. A couple of days before the race I dug the bike out of the basement, filled the tires (luckily the tires remained at correct pressure), and replaced the battery in the bike computer. I knew that I would be slower and more cautious on the bike, so I just went based on feel and trying to aim for a certain range of speed using feedback from the computer. I was also fumbling with my helmet at times because of the way I stuffed my hair into it. The bike course was different from the last time I rode it, but mostly nice smooth roads. There were some inclines here and there but not too bad. I felt like I was going a pretty decent pace and passing pretty frequently. Little did I know that I would later find out that I should have re-calibrated the bike computer as it was off a bit and gave me a faster reading. I ended up finishing about 5 minutes slower than back in 2003, which was a bit slower than I expected. In spite of this, I was starting to enjoy myself a bit more and was definitely looking forward to starting the run.

Almost finished with the bike

T2 - 2:19
I dismounted and ran back to my stuff in transition -- this time going down the correct aisle of bikes. :-) I put on my hat (stuffed my hair inside), replaced my bike shoes for running shoes and then was off to the run start -- a quicker transition this time around.

Run - 5k (3.1mi), 28:00 - 9:02mpm pace
I felt a little stiff-legged starting the run but really happy to be doing my favorite part of a triathlon. :-) I passed by Brian (thanks for being an awesome cheerleader, sweetie!) along the path and gradually the stiffness lessened. Though I was passing people pretty regularly, I still felt like I was going pretty slow. As I passed by Mile 1, I was surprised to find my first split to be 9:12. Wow! I was expecting something over 10, so I was really happy to see that split. As I am going along, I notice that there are many women walking now, and I'm having a great time "blazing" past them. I get to the turnaround to go back toward the finish, approach Mile 2 in 9:16. Nice, steady pace. The lake is pretty and there is a nice breeze off of it which feels great. Just one more mile to go, and time is really flying by. I guess it would considering my last race was 6 days for a total of 30 hours. ;-) I pass by a older woman who is looking strong, and notice the number "73" on her leg, which was her age. Wow! I want to be as fit as she looked when I'm that age!

The final stretch
The final stretch, yay!

My legs feel great and I start to quicken my pace a bit more. Now it's time for the final stretch, the spectators are cheering for us triathletes along the path. I have forgotten about the crappy mood I was in prior to the race. I hear my name being called over the loudspeaker and sprint to the finish, the race is in the bag, finish time of 1:41:08 (last 1.1mi was 9:35), which was good for 536 of 1711 overall! Not too shabby for this back-of-the-packer. :-) I check later on and find that this year's time is only a minute and a half slower than back in 2003 when I actually trained for it. Not too bad! Having a great run and a decent swim definitely made up for a slower bike portion.

Loyal spectator
A very loyal spectator/cheerleader, my niece, Megan :-)

Once I walked out of the finish area, I met back up with Brian and my sister's husband and kids to wait for Cindy along the path. We cheered for her as she passed by onto the finish, coming in at just over two hours. It was great to see her finish strong! Afterwards, we got our stuff from transition and made our way back to the parking area, and then went out for a celebratory lunch. All in all it turned out to be a great day. I'm very proud of Cindy for doing so well, congrats to you little sis!! She Swims, She Bikes, She Runs, She ROX! :-)

Me and my lil sis
Me and my lil sis, Cindy -- so proud of you, girlie!


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