Littlefoot Triathlon – Race Recap

Oh man.

This summer I planned to do no races, to enjoy my summer, and to go to more happy hours. And I have! I have spent a lot of time drinking beers on patios, sitting on the couch, working, and very little time working out. As a result I’m slightly squishier but a lot less stressed out than I was this time last summer.

But a few weeks ago Chris and I went for a bike ride and then I hopped off and did a short run. Just to see. Just to see how bad a brick might feel. But it was fine! I was hot and tired, but really, it was fine.

So on a whim, with no training, yesterday afternoon I signed up for the Littlefoot Triathlon, a tiny sprint tri that was this morning. (There were only about 150 racers.) I had done two random 5ks this summer, not really trained, and PR’d both! Maybe 2013 was one long taper I’d benefited from immensely.

Ha. Hahahaha. Oh, Past Mel. How did you get so dumb?

I actually had a lot of fun today, but I totally face-planted in the race. The very short version with random crappy iPhone pictures…

The approach:

Most of my gear came together pretty quickly last night except for 10 tense minutes spent looking for a stray cycling glove. (I have super crappy wrists, I need them even for a short ride.) My alarm didn’t go off (I set it for PM instead of AM) but Chris’s alarm woke me up and I got out the door on time. On the way there, I hit a bump on the freeway and in the rear view mirror watched my bike bounce out of its fastenings on the bike rack and slide dangerously close to flying off. Pulled over, adjusted, drove verrrry carefully the rest of the way.

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The swim:

Always my favorite leg, and I love the part before we start where everyone’s in the water chatting. I haven’t swam (in a pool or in a lake) in a year so I was impressed that I could swim a half mile with no breaks. It wasn’t fast, but I swam pretty straight and was able to pass some folks.

The bike:

Bleh. I think I have realized I do not enjoy cycling, especially on my crappy Target bike. The course wasn’t as hilly as I thought, but it was really curvy, so you had zero momentum going into the uphills. Also, my heart rate was like “WHY DID YOU JUST SWIM SO HARD FOR SO LONG? IS SOMETHING CHASING YOU?” and my heart rate would. Not. Come. Down. Not when I slowed down, not when I had water, not when I took it easy on the uphills.

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The run:

I got off the bike and my legs felt okay-ish, but again my heart rate was like “THIS IS NOT DRINKING BEER. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING??” And by this time it was really hot, and when I tried to run my heart rate exploded and I felt a little dizzy. So since I had no goals, and I was just here for fun, I decided to just walk the 5k. I could have kept up a run/walk situation but…meh. Meh. I say.

I smiled at other racers, chatted with volunteers, and drank a lot of water. It was hot. Then there were fewer people on the course and I got bored. I kind of wished I’d spent my $85 on a new dress.

The finish:

I realized at some point that I was the last finisher, and I felt badly because I think people really like to cheer for last finishers who look like they’re overcoming some hardship but trying really hard. People like it when the last finisher is really old or overweight but doing their best to sprint to the finish! I was just a healthy lady who was not trained at all and being kind of lazy.

When I got to the finish line I tried to nonchalantly saunter across, but the announcer stopped the raffle/awards to call me out, and I waved to the crowd. “Hi! Sorry. Don’t mind me. Are there any vegetarian sandwiches left?” (There weren’t!)

Maybe 15 seconds after I finished, I was slinking off to collect my stuff when the announcer called out my name for first place! Well, only place. In the sadly neglected Athena division. (That means I weigh more than 150 pounds.) I collected my award and marveled at the math that allowed me to be both first and last. Ah, well.

So there’s that. Ninth triathlon in the books. Kind of made an idiot of myself, but I had fun.

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Three footnotes if I could remember how to actually code footnotes:

One, I think I actually came in last place, which is kind of funny. It’s that thing people dread but it’s fine. No one points and laughs at you, you still get the same t-shirt. I’m kind of happy to fall on this sword if it means someone else who would mind doesn’t have to. But, I was also in the last wave, so maybe someone who started 20 minutes ahead of me actually took more time than I did. Who knows.

Two, I wish the Athena division was really a thing. I always sign up for it if it’s an option because seriously, regardless of how in shape you are, it’s just harder to propel 150 pounds around a course than it is 120 pounds, and I’m a big person! I’d like to compete against other big people. I’m tall and broad and the only time in my life I’ve weighed less than 150 pounds was a brief period after college when I engaged in some somewhat disordered habits. Other than that, I’ve fit into the same jeans since high school.

And there were definitely women in that weight range who beat me today who decided to compete in their age group instead. They should have this cool plaque, not me! I mean, to each her own. Thanks for the first place/last place finish, ladies!

Three, race directors: you always run out of the vegetarian sandwiches or burritos! You should have more. I was starving and made a beeline for a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich when I left the park.
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No races for one year

I did four triathlons in the summer of 2011 and another four over the summer of 2012. Each year in August I hit a wall where I was Done. Tired of training. Tired of passing on happy hours to go to the gym. Tired of getting up early on Saturdays to swim.

In the spring, it’s really tempting to sign up for races. Your have the year laid out at your feet and early bird pricing on registration fees. There are a half dozen races I’d love to do. And it’s a bummer not to be able to put anything on my calendar.

But yesterday was beautiful and warm. I was going to go for a run, but I emailed a friend instead and asked if we wanted to convene a meeting of the Ladies Walking Club. (Basically an hour or so of chatting plus four miles plus of walking.) Our walk quickly devolved into grabbing beers at the Denver Bicycle Cafe instead.

And I didn’t have to stress about missing a prescribed workout from my training plan or the fact that and I had not run one time this week.

I’m a little embarrassed by how little I’ve been exercising lately, but happier with how I’m spending my free time.

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I dragged these photos into a post and then had to groan at myself a little. Gratuitous self photo? Picture of my shoes? Random shot of the scenery? Oh, well. I suppose we all get to be a little cliché sometimes. (Fun fact: I kept an online journal for almost ten years on livejournal under the user ID ‘cliched.’)

Anyways. What I wanted to say about these photos is this:

Through the magic of the Colorado sun, it is totally warm enough to go for a run in a tank top when it is 39 degrees outside. My hands were a little cold, but seriously it was totally fine. Which is great because this green tank top is my favorite workout shirt and I never want to live anywhere where I have to put it away for a few months at a time.

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The sidewalks are still a mess from the snow from last Wednesday, though. For as long as I’ve lived in Colorado, icy sidewalks have given me rage. Hey, neighbor. If you don’t want to shovel your sidewalk, you can pay someone else to do it for you. Because if you don’t, when everyone else’s icy remnants have been melted by the sun, your little section remains a sucky danger trap.

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Luckily I got some Yaktrax for Christmas! And wow I am in love. I felt so confident running over patches like this (though I admit I kind of missed the built in walk breaks). They were a little loud, but I got used to it pretty quickly. I was worried they would feel strange on my feet or throw off my gait, but they felt awesome. I found myself running on the snow and ice even when there was clear sidewalk available, just because I could.

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Somehow I haven’t gone for a run in six weeks. I did three miles today, and the whole last mile I was kind of dying. I have walked and biked to work, gone to yoga a few times, but nothing really strenuous for the last month. I did the same thing last year, so I guess December is just really my off season.

Work stuff, holiday stuff, family stuff. It’s just a busy month, and I was due for some time off. But in the words of Jed Bartlett, “Break’s over. What’s next?”

For someone who decided to quit doing races I sure do like reading and talking about them

After cheering at Saturday’s marathon and half marathon, I fell down a hole this week reading race recaps. (And I even saw myself a few times, that was pretty cool.)

But way cooler, I was struck by how many ways there are to run a successful race.

What’s cool is that there are so many ways to make it yours and to make it fun. And maybe your version of fun is running really fast or finishing with friends or taking a million pictures or getting the most high fives or sticking to your plan so you can sprint to the finish. I suppose, as cheesy as this sounds, that’s what makes running so great. There’s something here for everyone.

Oktoberfest Sprint Triathlon 2012 – Race Recap

Good morning! It’s 5 am and I did NOT sleep last night because dogs were barkin’ and horns were honkin’ and I took a stupid afternoon nap that I think messed me up. Also, blatant “my hair is getting SO long and I LOVE it” photo.

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Most race mornings I jump out of bed, totally wired. Since this was more of a really really really just for fun race I was less pumped to get out of bed. It felt like my alarm went off right as I had drifted to sleep and I was definitely wanting another 20 minutes.

I ran through my packing checklist one last time, blended up a big smoothie for us to share and we were out the door by 5:45. As we got in the car I saw my neighbor friend putting her bike into her car too! She has been at three of the four triathlons I did this year, and we keep saying we need to organize some kind of club since our neighbors are all swimmers, bikers, runners, or some combination.

We got to Union Reservoir right as transition opened but apparently not early enough because we didn’t get to park in the close parking lot. Oh, well. Three minute walk vs. 20 minutes extra in bed? Easy call.

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Once we arrived we split up. Chris was volunteering at this race, not just spectating, so he went off to body mark and I picked up my packet and set up transition.

I recognized a gal at the packet pickup table from the end of the Harvest Moon (my first half iron distance two weeks ago). She is the nicest lady and we chatted for a few minutes about how I was a crying mess and she said, “I’m going to cry again, I was so proud of you for finishing!” I think the people at Without Limits (the company who put on this race, my last race, and many others) are the nicest. And it feels nice to be able to “shop local” when it comes to races as opposed to doing those put on by giant companies. Anyways.

The t-shirts for this race are like the least ugly t-shirts I have ever gotten. I never wear mine (I give them to Chris) but isn’t this cute? This is the back, and the front just has a small “Without Limits” logo. They don’t have nine million logos on them.

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I didn’t think about the fact that Chris would be up close and personal with so many fit ladies while body marking. Oh, well.

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But since I knew the body-marker, I asked if he could give me some extra art. Which is how this happened…

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So, I set up transition. I was glad we got there kinda on the early side because the line to get your timing chip got really long.

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Said hi to my coworkerfriend doing the race.

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And then I went down to the water and cursed myself for not bringing some throw away flip flops. It is rocky and horrible and my feet really hurt. I got in the water and waded around.

There was a lot of nervous energy in that lake. Before we started they asked for a show of hands for first time ever triathletes and it looked like a third of the crowd were first timers! I admit it was kind of nice to not be the nervous nelly and feel confident that I was going to enjoy myself.

I lined up with my wave and we were off! The buoys were spaced pretty closely so sighting was easy. I tried to push hard on the swim, to the point I got a small side stitch. But it was pretty clear I’d taken the last two weeks entirely off, and I ended up finishing a minute slower than last year. I got to use one of my favorite tricks: sighting off of someone who is breaststroking. They’re definitely going the right way since they can see, and if they’re next to you, it’s easier to see them than something in front of you. (Then again, I always come in close to last, so maybe don’t take my advice.)

I only got pummeled once by a swimmer from the wave behind me. Otherwise people were pretty good about personal space.

Chris was at the Run-Out at transition so I got to say hi on my way out of the water.

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Somehow I sent a ridiculously long time in transition. What was I even doing? It was close to five minutes. Who knows.

Onto the bike! This bike course is nice because it is flat! I really tried to push myself, and it was so different to ride not on hills. I was actually pushing myself to the point where I started to feel out of breath before my legs were killing me, which was different than the past few super-hilly courses I’ve been on. I liked it. I even passed a few people. (Not that many. And they were on cruisers or mountain bikes. But still!) I have to think if I had a non-crappy hybrid bike from Target I could be a speed demon on the bike. Anyone have an extra $1,000?

Off the bike I felt awesome and really tried to push myself on the run as well. I took two one minute walk breaks and tried to push to where I felt just a little uncomfortable. I ended up finishing the run at an 11:47 pace, which was exciting. I haven’t seen that side of 12 minute miles in a while and it felt good.

One thing about this race is that it seemed kind of quiet. Usually on an out and back run there’s a lot of “Nice work!” “Keep it up” and “Looking strong!” but this course was eerily silent.

I wish I had more to say but I don’t really want to say “I really tried to push myself” for a fourth time. I tried to go fast-ish but I didn’t feel like killing myself. I think my lack of soreness today means I didn’t really go full throttle.

I ate a delicious veggie burrito from Wahoo’s when it was done and congratulated coworkerfriend (who also had a great race!).

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Went home and put my new glass to good use.

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Contemplated how wearing a race bib always makes me feel like I’m a star-bellied sneech.

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And Chris poured me a congratulations-on-a-fun-season-ending-race glass of champagne.

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The end. I promised myself no more races for at least a year. I have spent too much time, money, and emotional bandwidth on them this year and I need a break.
I am taking suggestions for new expensive, time-sucking hobbies.