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.

IMG 0002

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.

IMG 0004

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.

IMG 0001

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.

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.

Harvest Moon 70.3 Odds and Ends

My actual race recap for the Harvest Moon 70.3 was already 90 million pages long. These are random moments from that race that don’t really fit into a recap. Mostly so I can remember them:

The run up:

As we pulled up to the park the sky looked so crazy. It was like you could see the curve of the earth as the sun was rising. It was really cool.

Img 3111Img 3113

When I got to the table to pick up my packet I had the most awkward conversation with the girl about my t-shirt size. I always ask for a men’s small and usually this will fit me or it will fit Chris. I’ve never actually gotten a race t-shirt that I ever wore again so I don’t really care. But the girl was like, “You asked for a men’s small, do you want a women’s medium?” And I was just so in my own head and not prepared for this question I stuttered and stumbled way more than necessary. Sorry, nice lady at check in. My women’s medium doesn’t fit, but I don’t really care.

The lady next to me in transition was SO chatty. And normally I appreciate chatty. I am chatty. But I was so nervous and she seemed to chipper I really hated her in that moment. She kept telling people around us where they could put their number on their bike. Random.

The swim:

Pro tip: one way to fog up your goggles really fast is to cry while you’re wearing them. And at one point I thought my goggles were leaking but I literally think it was my own tears sloshing around in there. Ridiculous.

I drank some water on purpose in the lake. It’s Aurora’s drinking water so I figured it was fine.

The bike:

I put my gatorade bottles in the freezer the night before and then brought a small cooler to put them in during the swim. As I left for the bike leg, both were still frozen solid. Luckily it was so hot the first one melted pretty quick in my bottle cage. The other bottle was in my waist pack, and it still had a frozen chunk in the middle when I took it out at mile 28. That system worked really well.

On part of the bike ride two horses ran in their field, parallel to me on the road. Thanks, pacers!

On one part of the course I came to an intersection at the same time a big white truck and a red SUV approached. A police officer stopped traffic so I could go through, and I told him it made me feel like the president and he gave me a good laugh. I felt the same way when Chris was riding next to me on the run. Like this must have been how President Clinton felt when he was jogging with his motorcade.

There were kids playing in a ravine who waved to me. I also passed a skeet shooting range. I found the gunshots a little unnerving.

At one point a woman pulled up beside me and asked me why we didn’t see anyone coming back. “Well, it’s not an out and back course, so…”

There was a cow on the last stretch of the bike course. One of the race officials had to go out and chase him off the road. The cow looked grumpy and I was a little nervous he wouldn’t move before I passed. But it did.

The run:

I also left my hat in my cooler with the ice, thinking it would feel great and cold when I started the run, but I don’t remember noticing. I think it was so hot that the hat didn’t stay cold long.

As I was walking from transition towards the run course I was rubbing my ring finger with my thumb. My hands felt naked without the rings I normally wear. Chris noticed and pulled them off his keychain and handed them to me.

Aid stations:

Aid stations staffed by teenagers are funny. I approached one and about eleven or eight kids were all sitting down at a picnic table. As I approached one of them sighed and said, “Can somebody get up and get this lady?” Another station had more enthusiastic kids and one proudly proclaimed my gatorade had “NO bugs!” (I swallowed a few tiny ones in different cups of gatorade. Oh, well.)

There was a really cute kiddo volunteer at the turnaround/aid station on the bike course, maybe 10 or 11 years old? I said “Thanks for being out here!” And he said “Thank YOU for being out here! I couldn’t even do this!” He was very earnest and I wanted to give him a dollar.

As I approached the last aid station, either at mile 1 or mile 2, there were like six volunteers (the rest were already all packed up). They seemed really enthusiastic and asked “What can we get you?” I declined, grabbed my belly and said I was pretty full. Right after that it occurred to me that they were there just for me and it would have been polite to take some water.

The aftermath:

I came home on Tuesday and there was an envelope in my mailbox with my name on it and a 70.3 sticker inside! Chris got it for me from the Runner’s Roost.  It’s kind of big, I haven’t figured out what I should put it on yet.

Img 3122

I have the most ridiculous tan lines. Really bad on my left leg from my pants and from my timing chip.

Img 3169

I have a dot on the back of each hand from my cycling gloves. And then there’s the usual half moons that come from wearing something racerback over something with regular straps.

Img 3171

We have an all-company meeting on Monday mornings. At the end we have a “Random five minutes” when people can share…whatever. Our CRO asked our CFO, “How’d your half-marathon go?” and she said it went well. And then my boss piped up with “Mel did her first half iron man yesterday!” And I said, “Yeah, that also involved a half marathon.” A little triathlon humor for you.

That afternoon I had lunch with a coworkerfriend. He’s an avid triathlete and an all around amazing human being and wanted to hear about my race. Surprise! I cried my eyes out as I told him about it.

That’s all. I promise I will stop talking about it now. 

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.

IMG 3202

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.

IMG 3207 IMG 2187

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.

IMG 3203

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.

IMG 3205

IMG 3206

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

IMG 2189

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.

IMG 3204

IMG 3210
IMG 3209

Said hi to my coworkerfriend doing the race.

DSC03312

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.

DSC03314

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!).

IMG 3214

Went home and put my new glass to good use.

IMG 3215

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

IMG 3218

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

IMG 3222

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.