Monday, May 08, 2006

RACE REPORT: Homegrown Triathlon

Marilyn Lathom HomeGrown Triathlon - SPRINT DISTANCE
Reston, VA - May 7, 2006

1K Swim / 20K Bike / 5K Run

Finishing Time: 2:09:35

Swim: 27:37 - T1: 3:02
Bike: 53:52 - T2: 1:26
Run: 43:14

Executive Summary: This was a fantastic race because it was low key and fun! It really lives up to it's "homegrown" name and the motto on the tshirt is "Start Slow and Taper". This race is all about accomplishments and good will and I loved every minute of it! If you goal is to finish a triathlon and have fun doing it .. This race is for you!

------- The rest of the story ----------

This can't be a short race report for me because this race is the culmination of a long, long year.

FLASHBACK: May, 2005 I sat in the recliner with a big smile on my face, listening as Keri told me all about her first triathlon EVER! She told me every last detail and I soaked it all up and laughed with her as she shared.

Her enthusiasm for this local race was unbridled and when she asked me if I would race it with her next May, I had to say "Yes, of course!"

Not long after that "Yes", I looked at Keri, as the chemo nurse hung the third I.V. bag of five and said "I'm sorry Keri but this is where I usually fall asleep, I think our visit is done..."

PRESENT DAY - Sunday, May 7th: I woke up for this race very tired and agitated. I woke up thinking "WHY BOTHER?" My last workout on Friday was awful compared to earlier in the week and I was very worried that I wouldn't be able to make the distances, especially the swim.

I threw on my race outfit for the day, loaded the car up, grabbed my PB&J and a banana and headed on my way. On the 30 minute drive, I rationalized with myself:

"If you can't manage this distance, how do you think you will ever get back on the road to the "ironman" distance? Your just scared, it's been a year .. You can do this..."

I arrived at the Reston Community Center and parked near Keri. She was my reason for being here and we had done some training together in prep for this race. I got a big hug from her and gathered up my gear and we walked down to register.

We got our instructions and numbers and I briefly spoke with the race director Michelle. I thanked her for the wonderful email she sent me in February when I registered for the race. Because I am still on chemo at race time, I had to share my medical condition and Michelle's response was warm and encouraging and she thanked me for choosing to do the race.

Michelle asked if she could mention me during the pre-race meeting and I said "Okay". In addition to being a low-key event, this race raises money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Fund, in memory of Marilyn Lathom - the mother of the sisters who started this race over 10 years ago.

Michelle's comments were brief and she acknowledge the many first timers doing this race (with a "V" for virgin on their bibs), a woman who was racing her first triathlon as part of a large weight loss goal (over 60 pounds), the parents of Marilyn Lathom who both race and volunteer their time year after year, and my participation "noting that I was just finishing up a year of chemotherapy". I chimed in with a loud "Don't forget your Sunscreen" and we all headed to the pool to start the race.

SWIM: 27:37 - The swim was 1K in distance and each lane had two racers and a lap counter. 20 laps (40 lengths) was the distance but if you chose to swim less, you were not penalized. The first wave was the "slow wave" and that was my wave!

The race watches were synched and Michelle yelled "Go!"

The pool was very warm to start with and by lap 5, I felt like I was swimming in stew!! The swim always gives me anxiety and at lap 10 I considered hopping out (I had a good "excuse") but I simply rolled on my back for a lap and then continued on. I chose to swim 3 lengths FreeStyle and 1 length Backstroke, which gave me pleny of good recovery time but kept me moving. By lap 15 I was thinking, "I am almost done!" and by Lap 20, I was ready for the bike.

I was 4th out of the pool in the slow wave.

T1: 3:02 - I chose to grab my towel and head straight to the bike where I pulled on my quarter-sleeve "sun-safe" top, helmet, sunglasses and my bike shoes. It was a little chilly but I knew I would warm up pretty quick. There are no locker rooms in my other races in the past so I figured that I needed to treat the transitions like every other race ... AS QUICKLY AS I COULD...

BIKE: 53:52 The bike was two loops of 6 miles on local roads. It was a rolling course with a few little climbs and descents. My goal was to bring the bike in under 1 hour even if I had nothing left to give on the run. A year ago, I could hardly ride more than 5 miles at a time on my bike without feeling worn down so it was important that I show myself that I had plenty of room to improve for the upcoming season.

I was pretty much alone the entire ride because I was in the front runners of the "slow wave" and the bike has always been my strongest event. On the second loop a few people passed me, on their first loop, and everybody was friendly and encouraging! I was satisfied with my effort and met my pace goal.

T2:1:30 - Only by virtue of being in the first wave; I was one of early folks to start the run so I had no problems finding a place to put my bike and my transition was a quick. I remember thinking "So this is what it feels like to be in the front on the bike" and enjoying the moment, even while I knew that I would get passed by a lot of people on the run.

RUN: 43:14 - Ha!! This was not a run for me but a brisk WALK with INTERVALS of JOGGING. I knew not long after I got off the bike that I was not going to be breaking any personal records so I chose to take my time and enjoy the last leg of the race. I got into a rhythm of 2/1 JOG/Walk intervals and had fun cheering to all the fellow racers flying by on the bike on their second laps and running by on their way to the turn around.

As was headed to the finish line, Keri and I passed on the run course. Having started her swim a good 5 minutes after I got out of the water, she had done a great job racing was going strong and we "High Fived". I told her I would see her at the finish and continued heading in.

The Finish Line Volunteers were wonderful as they cheered me in by name.

I went grabbed a big hunk of Watermelon and sat back to cheer everybody in! It wasn't long before Keri was heading in to the finish looking strong and sprinting the last 100 yards.

While I can't look at this race as a personal record in terms of race times, it is certainly a personal milestone. My last "triathlon" was a Sprint Distance race in April of 2005 before the start of my year of Chemotherapy for a diagnosis of Malignant Melanoma. At that time, I had an entire sesaon of racing planned and was dealing with the fact that my plans were about to change, like it or not.

Now just a year later, I am 3 weeks away from being done with Chemo and I have officially started the season that was derailed last year. I am still a TRIATHLETE and I am living STRONG and CANCER couldn't take that away from me! Just give me a finish line and show me the way ...

Holly G. in Alexandria, VA

My BLOG - TRI and be happy!


TriFeist said...

Most excellent race report! What a way to live strong. Imagine how fast you'll be at the end of the season when the interferon is out of your system.

Amazon Alanna said...

Holly, what a wonderful and awe inspiring race report. You are inspirational!

*jeanne* said...

:-) Holly ROCKS!
:-) Wonderful, inspiring report!
:-) Way to go when you didn't even want to start in the morning!!! Yuppers!
:-) You are STRONG!
:-) You are almost done with chemo!
:-) :-) :-) :-) :-)
GREAT! Fab-YOU-lous!
I am so proud to know you!


Bolder said...


great race, great report!!