Monday, August 6, 2012

Culpeper International Triathlon Recap

 On Saturday, I did my first ever international distance triathlon - 1500 meter swim, 24 mile bike ride, and 10K run. I very very loosely sort of hoped for under 3:30 as my finish time, so I was pretty happy today when I found out my official time was 3:15:02.

A lot of firsts were going on for this race. My first time storing 3 bikes in a hotel room.
Mine didn't even fit in the picture.

First time drinking wine before a race (I didn't have a choice, I was ordered to by a doctor). 

And last but not least, this may have been the first time I've ever gone into a race dehydrated because I cried so much the night before. Not to worry though, they were tears of joy, because just about 12 hours before the race I became an Aunt!

Harrison Gregory Porter, 5lbs, 7oz at birth
 More on that later, though, as this is a race report. 

Since we were staying only about 25 miles from the race start, Jackie, Lily and I were able to sleep in until 5:30am. Since I'm some sort of fool who signed up for a race where I would begin running around 10:30 am on a day where the actual temperature reached over 100, I had to get a little creative with hydration.

I immersed my handheld in a lunch box filled with ice, so I wouldn't burn my tongue trying to drink during the run. 

Turns out it took a lot longer than we thought to get there and we ended up rushing like crazy to get everything done in time. I told the 14 year old body markers my number was 85, only to realize that when I tried to pick up my chip and it was "missing" that my number was actually 89, so I had to go back and beg them to do some fancy artwork to change it.

This race were really messing with my head. Compared to the half ironman I did in May, the bike and run were less than half of those distances, yet the swim was nearly the same (1.2 miles compared to .92 miles), and I didn't have the help from my wetsuit this time. The swim is by far my weakest event, so this put me at a serious disadvantage.

Plus, it was a small lake, so the swim course was really weird. I created a gorgeous masterpiece in Paint to help everyone understand what it looked like.

I'll probably quit teaching and go into graphic design now.

As far as the swim goes, my good friend Mike says something like "what you put into it, you get out of it". My swim training was practically nonexistent this summer, so the swim was terrible. Official time was 43:43, which I think is the equivalent of like a 7 hour marathon, although actual swimmers please feel free to weigh in on that.

I was really nervous because we were no longer in the novice group, so our security blanket of starting last had been ripped away. Now, we were starting in a group of 48 strong female swimmers. That wasn't a problem, because I knew I could start in the back, outside area, and give everyone else a head start. What was really making me fret was the fact that the next wave of 96 men were starting 3 minutes behind us, and in my case, would quickly  be overtaking me.

I tried to stay on the outside edge of the course, away from the buoys, in the slow lane. Of course, my sighting is awful, so the one time my goal was to stay away from the buoys I was nearly crashing into them. I managed to remain somewhat calm, but the swim still seemed long and tedious. 

The bike was great. Very hilly, with lots of tight turns, but enough big downhills to make it fun. I passed some people, not a ton, but notably four girls who looked like they might be around my age on the last huge uphill around mile 18 or 19. I felt really strong the whole time, and my average pace was 15.9, fast for me!

Jackie also said she saw the officials write down a guy's number to give him a penalty for drafting off me. I feel that whatever amount of time was added to his race time should have been deducted from mine. It's only fair.

Towards the end of the bike, it was getting really hot, and I was starting to get anxious about the run. After T2, I headed out and even the first few steps felt terrible. My calves were killing me, my heart rate was something like 178, and I was massively out of breath. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the humidity was 99% at the start of the race, and the temperature had to be nearly 100 by then. 

I walked for maybe a minute up the giant hill that the 2-loop run course started on to see if that would help, but it really didn't. Commence freak out about how the hell I was going to run another 6.1 miles in this condition.

Luckily, embarrassment about being seen walking by Lily, Jackie, or Victoria got me through until my body remembered that I knew how to run and I started to feel good (somewhere around the start of the second loop). A group of volunteers were offering "water, Heed, or splash". I thought splash was some sort of drink I'd never heard of until another runner requested it and they actually threw all the water they were holding onto her. I was dying to get my own splash on my way back past that water stop, which would be uphill, and it was all I'd hoped for. I couldn't have wanted to kiss those volunteers any  more if they'd been wearing Katy Perry masks.

Finally, somehow, I ran the 6.2 miles at an average pace of 9:01 and finished the race.

Obsessing over watch at finish line photo - check!
My racing buddies with our four legged cheering squad

One advantage of triathlons over running only races is that there's an automatic cool down station after the finish line. The water was 87 degrees, but still cooler than the air.

One of the reasons that I choose this race was that it was run by Setup events , the same company that did a great job organizing the Kinetic Half Iron triathlon that I did in May. They even outdid themselves this time, coordinating the race shirt with my red Aspaeris Pivot shorts, so I could recover in style.

The stats:

  • Swim - 43:43,    86/91 women.    15/17 in my age group - ouch
  • Bike  - 1:31:59, 56/91 women, 12/17 age group - not as bad
  • Run -   54:50    29/91 women,     6/17 age group - better

  • English muffin with peanut butter and banana before the race - my new favorite pre-race breakfast
  • 4 big bites of energy bar on the bike (for some reason I didn't really feel like eating, but the energy bars are fairly calorie dense so please don't picture me eating half a special K bar during this race)
  • 23 oz of water on the bike
  • Espresso love Gu at the start of the run
  • My whole handheld plus three small cups of Heed, each one was inexplicably filled with a massive amount of dirt and grime so that I could only drink half before contaminating my mouth
  • About half a small bottle of water in transition, which may have been a mistake, because my transition times were a joke.
The fun didn't stop there - just as we were leaving, fellow chocolate lover and #fatfluential tweeter Victoria was calling my name. I was so excited to meet her in person - I thought I'd blown my chances by arriving late, since she's super fast and I expected she'd already be home and showered by that point.


 After the classy "change behind a car door in a field" move, Jackie was nice enough to drive me back to Baltimore. When I got home, I had less than an hour to transform this:

All the cool kids double fist water
 Into this:
I was even wearing heels.


  1. Congrats on the tri--you did great!! Curious-- do you think you like running events or tri's better? This is the first summer I haven't done any triathlons and your recaps are making me miss them :)

    PS You look hot in that dress, lady!!

    1. Hmmm it's really hard to say - running events are much simpler in terms of preparation, but I really enjoy both for different reasons. And I love the biking in tri's! It's like asking if I'd rather have a brownie or ice cream, you can't go wrong either way!

  2. Hahaa I love your hand drawn map! A masterpiece indeed.

  3. I freaking love the names your sister picked for your nephew!

    Your race sounds so ridiculous. I can't believe you were still able to run 9 minute miles during the run portion with the weather what it was. However, I'm most impressed by your transformation for the wedding. Well done.

  4. Tris sound so complicated compared to runs haha. I like the instructions of "Uh, just run that way. Turn at the cones." Even the instructions for a trail race (Stay on the yellow blazes until you hit mile X and then change to the green and then...) can stress me out. I'm pretty convinced I couldn't mentally handle the strain of remembering 3 courses. :)

    I love your dress for the wedding!

    Also, Harrison is adorable. :)

  5. Running 9/mi pace on that run course is insane. SO MANY HILLS. SO STEEP.

    But in the end we got to meet each other, which made the mad dash to the finish worth it.

  6. I'm with Kara - tris sound incredibly complicated. Multiple sports, outfit changes, the possibility of getting lost...I think I'd just quit.

    You look hot in that dress. Where did you get it?

  7. i would die while swimming. i'm certain of that.

    congrats on becoming an aunt - harrison is adorable and smiling already!

    congrats on another are a racing machine!

  8. Way to go! I'm impressed with the 9 min miles! Wow! For my 2 miles I did the first 2 around 845 and the last 2 close to 10-my legs wanted to be done. That's also my idea of getting ready for a wedding- who needs 2 hours to prep when you can do it in 1?!

  9. Having all the guys starting just a couple minutes behind you in the swim had to suck but overall quite impressive, congrats! Sounds like your packed weekend was even more packed with the official arrival of your nephew!

  10. I will abstain from cute nephew comments because I just left them on the other post...but seriously, he is adorable. Ok.

    Nice pace on the run portion - the other numbers don't mean THAT much to me because I'm terrible at both running and swimming, but I'm so impressed!

  11. Beautiful dress for the wedding! You guys both look great in that picture. Congrats on another tri in the books!


Thanks for commenting! Comments make me probably more happy than they should.