Friday, June 10, 2011

Race Report: Maxwell AFB Triathlon 2011

Maxwell Airforce Base Triathlon - Montgomery, AL - 8AM
400yd SWIM - 6.5m BIKE - 4m RUN

Executive Summary:  For a "First Time event" Maxwell AFB did an excellent job!  A pool Swim, really short Bike course and a long Run (in proportion for a Sprint Distance TRI) but a great time and everybody was awesome about encouraging and cheering people on - especially *all* the athletes that inevitably passed me on the RUN course. LOL It was a great way to start my very short TRI racing season this year.

The Rest of the Story: Due in large part to our recent move to Alabama, this SPRINT TRI was the first race of my triathlon season, so I was very much looking forward to it as a chance to guage where I am at before I race the Dragon Fly Triathlon next week in Sardis, MS and follow-up with Vineman 70.3 in Windsor, CA in July. 

When you add that this low-key triathlon is just a 15-minute drive from our house and FREE - well that was just *icing on the cupcake*!  I expected, based on my recent training, that the race would take me about 1:30 to complete, including Transitions and I was pretty close to that time but I will never truly know my splits because my Garmin 310XT chose today - mid-race - to FREEZE so I spent the Bike and Run racing "blind to pace." I'll bring a back up (my timex) next week to Dragon Fly Tri.

PRE-RACE:  The transition area for this race was very LOW KEY.  Everbody just picked a spot in Airforce Park to put their bikes, as there were no bike racks.  I chose to bring a milk crate to carry my gear and use that as an impromp-to Bike Stand.  Worked out pretty well and since I got to Maxwell around 6:40am, I got a nice spot near the entrance/exit of transition. 

After setting up transition, I headed to the Cadet Pool to get body marked and wait for the race start.  I struck up a conversation with the guy next to me as we walked to the pool and it turned out that he was a fellow Team Z teammate, Jon, whom my friend Keri has been telling me about for a few weeks now.  She knew that we were both moving down to Maxwell AFB and had been telling me that I should look Jon up - and there he was!  We probably would not have met as quickly if I had not worn my Team Z race kit (all green - all Z!) so it worked out great to finally meet Jon and to have another person to cheer on and look for out on the course.

SWIM: 400yds - 10:02 (garmin) The swim was 400 yds / 8 laps of the 50 yd outdoor pool.  The water temp was already over 90 and they had the athletes in two heats. I was in heat #1 and Lane 4 and there were 3 athletes per lane.  The guys I shared the lane with were doing their first TRI and had no idea what their swim time would be so they had me start first.  I worried that I would be in the way, but as it turned out - I was the first one out of the pool, in our lane (though not the first one of the pool by any stretch of the imagination! LOL) The swim went exactly as I expected - 10 minutes was what the last four "test" 400s had been in this pool the two days before - and that is exactly what I did.

T1: .25 miles (no time) There was a pretty long run from the deck of the pool, across the street and to the bikes on the other side of Airforce Park - so it was a GREAT SURPRISE - when I got out of the pool and there was my husband Jim, taking a quick office break, to cheer me on.  He jogged with me over to transition - noting that this was a "long run to T1" and it was awesome to have him there to see me off on the Bike.  Got to transition, grabbed socks, shoes and helmet and I was on my way to the Bike - felt like I made good use of the time and was not yet aware that my Garmin had stopped doing it's job.
BIKE: 6.5 miles (estimate 18 minutes): Got on my bike and knew that it was going to be quick and easy.  The course was flat and really 6.5 miles isn't even enough time to warm-up on a bike so I just went for broke and pushed the pace the entire time.  I passed quite a few people leading up to the turn-around and then held them off, knowing already that I was going to get passed on the run but enjoying a little "lead" time anyways.  If they could run this TRI again and extend the bike course to two loops of 6.5 miles (13 mile) or even 3 loops - this would be a great competitive Bike course for a sprint-distance event.

About 1 mile into the Bike is when I realized that my Garmin was stuck at 10:02, I tried pushing the lap button a few times and even tried stopping the timer all together but it was FROZEN in time.  I was a little frustrated because I was banking on my GARMIN to help keep me steady and strong on the RUN but with no choice, I just turned the Garmin off and monitored my effort by how I felt and my breathing.

T2: No Time / 8:35AM: Quickly back from the bike, I know I had a strong bike because I did know that it was 8:35AM, just 30 minutes after the race start when I left T2.  Wasted some time in T2 trying to get my Garmin to start up in regular mode so I could at least time my run - nothing doing - the damn thing wouldn't even come on now - so I had no choice but to do this 4 mile RUN "by feel" only and hope that I could motivate myself to stick to 50 minutes max.

RUN: 4 miles (estimate 55 minutes): "OMG, why does it have to be so HOT in Alabama?"  The run started off SLOW with me working hard to get my heart rate down to something manageable.  I already new that the RUN was going to be disproportionately LONG in terms of time for me, I just have not been jogging very fast these days but I resolved last night, pre-race, that no matter how long it took me - I was running the entire 4-miles, even if the pace was damn slow. The only walk breaks would be at water stops and limited to 30-60 seconds.  AND I STUCK TO MY PLAN!  It took me through the Mile 1 to get my heart rate down to a good place and feel like I have a solid steady pace that I could hold onto for the full 4 miles.  At about Mile 1.5, I saw Jon (Team Z) looking strong and on a solid steady pace and we gave each other a "Go Z" cheer!  Mile 2 was the turn around and I high-fived the Volunteers and drank some water and splashed the rest on my head to cool off (and my heart rate shot back up for a second!) and then I settled into knocking out the last two miles - very slowly. 

Honestly, the heat, even at 9AM (90F) really just wipes me out on these runs and the run course was open and exposed with only a little shade.  The saving grace on this race course were all the fellow athletes! Everybody was cheering each other on and encouraging each other - EVERYBODY!  And I gave as much as I got - getting lots of "Way to go Ma'am's" and "Nice Work - Keep it Steady" which really help me a lot and I did my best to cheer every athlete that passed me - and it was pretty much almost everybody! LOL  Mile 3 came and went and I found myself wishing that this was a 5K run course because I would have been done already but I just told myself "You can do anything for 13 more minutes" and put one foot in front of the other.  Soon enough I was turning the corner and joining the "Team" athletes who only had to run 1-mile for their RUN leg and the finish line was in sight.

FINISH: Quick Look at the Race Clock as I passed through the finish line: 1:38 - about 8 minutes slower than my goal (1:30) but in light of the longish RUN portion of this race and running in the heat of the morning, I have no complaints and I have plenty of room for improvement over the next 5 weeks with Vineman 70.3 on the horizon.

All in all, it was the BEST WAY to spend a Friday Morning!  A Free TRI in my new home town followed by a great Base-Wide Picnic Lunch that Jim was able to come and join me for AND I got a chance to meet fellow Team Z teammate Jon and we have plans to stay in touch to do some bike riding/tri training together this summer.

Next Race:  Dragon Fly Triathlon - Sardis, MS - Saturday, June 18 - Goal is TOP 3 ATHENA FINISH

Life is Good! LiveSTRONG!

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