Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Danskin Triathlon 2012 Race Report

My first triathlon is done and I am in love with a new sport.  It took me five years to give triathlons a try and while I am sad I hadn't tried one sooner, I am kind of thankful as I feel my endurance training has made me a better triathlete.  I warn you, I write long race reports, but feel free to skip to the bottom to read how it went.

Backing it up to pre-race.  I was a ball of nerves going into the race.  I had no doubt I could finish the race, but I like to race a race as well so was excited to see what I could do.  I hired a coach to train me for my half ironman in September and she gave me advice on what to do during the race but I needed more specific details.  She was racing Lake Placid the next day and I didn't want to bother her so I started googling pacing for a sprint and came up with this page.  It gave me a race strategy that made sense and that was what I would combine with the advice my coach had already given me.

Race day, was an EARLY wake up.  The Massachusetts Danskin race was in Webster, Massachusetts. That is over an hour from where I live.  Race start was at 7am and I didn't make an extra drive to pick up my number so I knew I had to get there early.

Arriving at the race venue was very smooth.  We got there around 5:30 and did the offsite parking about a mile from the starting area.  They had shuttles for your spectators to take to the start and my sister and I hopped on our bikes to ride the short distance to the race.  Number pickup went smoothly and we were quickly setting up our transitions in the best possible spot we could.  My sister and I were assigned the same bike rack and it happened to be the first rack out of the water, making it so much easier to find.  I set up my transition and know I really need to figure this out.  I was quite flustered the whole day when it came to transitions.

My coach wanted me to warmup before the race so I got to it.  I already had ridden 5 minutes on my bike so it was time for a quick run.  I put on my shoes and went for a quick easy run and came back to see the transition area was quickly filling up.  

We were about 30 minutes away from the start so I figured I better get my quick swim warmup in.  I was pretty self conscious putting my wetsuit on when most people were not wearing a wetsuit, but this wasn't just a race to me but a practice for my race in September.  There was no way I was going to lose my chance of practicing wearing a wetsuit because I was afraid to stand out.  I got in the water and it was warm, clear, and shallow.  Luckily it wasn't too warm and my nerves were quickly eased when I could see what I was swimming through.

Beautiful morning for a race.

After my warm-up and waiting for the start.  Can't believe I am posting a wetsuit photo!

Ready to go with my sister.

So the swim start was in waves.  I believe it went by age groups with a small elite wave and then starting with the oldest moving on back.  This put me in the 8th wave starting about 25 minutes off the start.  My stomach was a mess with nerves watching all the swimmers go and waiting for my turn.

And a goggle photo to embarrass myself more.

The start of the swim was as my coach had described.  I should start out sprinting and will feel like I am going to hyperventilate very quickly.  And this happened.  I swam hard to try and get around the other girls around me and pushed it in those first 200 or so yards.

This is when I questioned myself.  I couldn't see the buoys and I felt winded. I had no idea how to sight correctly and felt like I was in over my head. I trusted my coach, that I would feel better shortly, and continued to push it and just try to follow the person in front of me.  Shortly after, the initial fear went away, I felt great.  We turned after the initial 200 yds and had about a 1/4 mile stretch.  I swam as straight as possible looking up every few strokes and started picking off other swimmers.  I felt like I was gliding through the water and continued to get stronger as the swim went on.  The one thing I didn't like was I felt like I had no idea where I was in the water at all.  I knew I was going the correct direction but I didn't know how much further I had to go because I could only see a short distance in front of me without actually stopping.  Danskin is known as a beginner race so a lot of time was spent weaving around other swimmers.  I love that Danskin encourages swimmers of all abilities to compete so I took it for what it was and tried my best to not break my stroke as I swam around people.  My wetsuit really helped me to swim smoothly and not notice as I pushed my way through people.  I felt bad moving through people but it was the easiest way to get around as I would have had to stop a lot more.

We finally turned and headed to shore.  Again, I wasn't totally aware of where I was as turning in water is not as obvious.  I tried to pick up my pace but wasn't positive that I was almost done.  When I could finally see the water exit I pushed as hard as could be.  I finally stood up, unzipped my wetsuit and pulled my arms out and took off my goggles and swim cap.  I ran out of the water and headed into transition.  Unfortunately, I have no pictures as my husband wasn't expecting me so soon.  Something I noticed at this point was people were walking to transition.  I was surprised and did my best to run even though my legs felt funny.

Swim Time: 12:44
Swim Rank: 10/790
You can only see my leg in this picture, but he did manage to get something.

Transition 1.

I so want to be able to say I was a rockstar in transitions, but I wasn't.  I have a lot of work on figuring out how to go quick in transition.  I was flustered and just wanted to get out of there.  I didn't want to waste time that I had worked so hard to save in the water getting ready, but I did.  I even forgot my bike gloves but did get out of there with my helmet and bike shoes on so I guess you could call that a success.

T1: 2:07 --Too slow I know, I will work on this!

Heading out of transition.

If you follow me on DailyMile, you will know I have been working on my bike, a lot.  I wouldn't call myself an experienced rider at all yet, but I am working on my endurance and keeping my cadence high.  Immediately upon starting my ride I noticed my heart rate was incredibly high, higher than I have ever seen it on the bike.  The website I read the night before had said this would happen and my coach had said it was OK if my legs burned and to not hold back, so I didn't.

The bike was 12.5 miles of rolling hills with a few huge hills.  Even though I was warned of the hills, once I hit mile 4.5 and saw the hill I was shocked.  It was steep and everyone around me was getting off the bike to walk their bikes.  I was not getting off and put my bike in a low gear and spun as fast as I could up the hill.  At the peak of each of the three steep hills, there was a group of spectators that were cheering for you making it that much easier to get up the hill.  After peaking the 3rd hill after mile 6 or so, there were a lot of downhills that I tried my best to take advantage of.  I tried pedaling the whole time riding down but I didn't feel safe going around some of the other riders so just pushed as hard as possible.  Before I knew it, I was at mile 9 and finally thought about taking a drink of water. Besides transitions, this was my second biggest mistake of the day.  I didn't fuel enough on the entire race.  I was caught up too much in the moment and the two small drinks I took the whole race did not make for a happy body post-race.  Luckily this was only a sprint triathlon or I think the effects could have been a lot worse.

The final 3 miles were fast and before I knew it I was heading back toward transition and getting ready to hit my run.  I had my Polar on my bike so I could see it so started unstrapping it within the last 1/4 of a mile.  This probably was not the best option but I need to figure out what works best for me.

Bike Time: 37:21 (19.9 mph)
Bike Rank: 5/790

Having so much fun out there, the smile never left my face.

Transition 2 was not much better than number one.  I forgot my visor/headband so was lucky I didn't sweat as badly as normal.  I sat to put my socks on as I wasn't sure my feet were ready for their first sock-less run.  I headed out of transition trying to strap my Polar on my wrist and get my legs moving.

T2: 1:29

My run was my biggest surprise of the day, yet brought me the most anxiety before the race.  I had no idea what to expect from my legs so didn't know how I would pace myself.  The first 1/2 a mile out of transition was tough.  My legs were heavy and didn't want to turnover.  I focused on quick, light steps and trusted that they would warm up and feel good shortly and they did.  Once I felt normal, I tried dropping my pace to around 7:00 and see what I could hold onto.  The 7:00 pace didn't feel too bad and I was continuing to pass more ladies.  The pace was tough but I didn't feel like I pushed myself at all.  Halfway through the 5k, I looked at my stopwatch and saw that I was probably going to make my goal of sub-1:20.  This was a far out there goal that I didn't say out loud as I didn't think it was possible.  The thought that I had a sub-1:20 helped me to pick it up even more and see what time I could pull off. With one mile to go, I realized I was far under my goal and picked it up even more.  I think at this point I was on pure adrenaline as my pace was comfortably below 6:45 at this point.

I made the turn onto the final stretch and picked up my pace even more.  I saw my husband and ran hard.

Yes, the finish line was that fun!

Run Time: 21:07 (6:48 pace)
Run Rank: 10/790

Final Time: 1:14:50
Overall: 3/790!!

I was third overall.  Because of the wave start I had no idea where I stood with the other competitors, I was only competing against myself for time.  I had registered in the Athena Division (greater than 150 pounds) hoping that I would win an award.  I didn't just win the Athena Division, but I was first in my age group and 3rd place out of everyone competing, even the elite field.

That's me, on an Active Leaderboard!!!

To say I was happy the rest of the day would be an understatement.  I beat my A+ goal by 5 minutes and placed in a huge race in my first triathlon.  My training has been tough and it appears to be working.  I am so excited to do more races and if I can make it work, I will be back at Danskin next year.

Thank you to Danskin for providing me with my entry for this year's race.  Danskin is a very well organized race that I highly recommend to triathletes.  All types of women compete at Danskin which makes it even more fun because you are not alone no matter what your ability.

**I was not compensated for this post.  I was provided with a free entry into the Danskin Triathlon for my review of the race.  My opinion is my own and has not been influenced.


Amanda Loudin said...

Wow--you killed it! Congrats to you! What impressive splits on both the bike and run!

Triathlons really are fun--more fun than running races, I think. It's just the training is so time consuming. I haven't done one in five years for that reason, but have two sprints coming up next month and in Sept. Really looking forward to them!

B.o.B. said...

holy crap that's awesome!!! congrats!!! you def have a future in tri's. welcome to the race!

Jennifer M. said...

That is so amazing! Way to GO!

Bill Hurley said...

Great race report Robin. You kicked butt. You will be ready for your half.

AmyC said...

That is so freakin' exciting Robin!! You totally earned that finish spot after all your training.

RunToTheFinish said...

congrats!! what an amazing start to your new sport! I've still not taken the dive in to tri's but you definitely make it sound exciting

jobo said...

Wow, Robin, you did INSANELY good!! Like, incredible. You are such a rockstar and um, can totally rock a wetsuit!! Seriously. And I have been wanting to get more into riding and you are really inspiring me...suggestions on a first bike??

Run Boise said...

Congrats on the tri! You did awesome.

Sybil said...

Wow, that is amazing! Great job!

Laura @ Mommy Run Fast said...

Yay, Robin!! I'm so thrilled for you, you were amazing out there! I'm so glad you had a better swim experience than me, I was definitely hyperventilating and freaking out for a hundred meters or so. How long was your swim? I think our races had different distances for a sprint (my swim was 500, bike was 16.6)- I guess there is variance in sprint tris? And I'm beyond impressed with your run. My legs were not moving for me, but another friend actually pr'd in her run portion of the tri, so I was hoping to have that kind of experience.
Did I see you facebook you signed up for an ironman, meaning the full distance? You're so inspiring!!

Erin said...

What an awesome race recap! I loved reading it and could feel your excitement. You were a total natural at triathlon!!! What an amazing run split and so awesome on the swim and bike too. I am crazy impressed. Go Robin Go! :)

Heather said...

Great job!! Your run was KILLER!

MaryIronMatron said...

YOU WERE AWESOME! So excited and proud of you, and thrilled that you had fun, raced hard,and finished in the TOP THREE OVERALL in your first tri! That is unheard of! Just amazing!
(and we'll work on those transitions...
SOCKS in a sprint? oh no no..... :)

Jess said...

Holy CRAP you just BLEW me away with this recap!! 3rd overall and FIRST in your age group-- are you SURE this was your first tri?? You are insanely inspirational girlfriend!!! ROCK ON!!

Sykes Marlene said...

Way to smoke your first tri! Congratulations!!! Also exciting news on signing up for Placid. :D I look forward to following along and hopefully seeing you there next year.

Michelle said...

Sorry I'm so late to respond to this -- CONGRATS!!!! You are such a rockstar. I can't wait to read about your Half Ironman :)

Jamie Campbell said...

Awesome job! Congratulations... so motivational/inspirational, you are. :)