Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Florida Challenge Triathlon

First of all, thank you for all the comments on my last two posts!! Dave is definitely feeling the love but still says he doesn't want his own blog. But, he has done his best to get some "bad" photos of me so ya'll can see I don't always smile during a race. Here's what he got at the Florida Challenge Tri last Saturday.

Well, even though I might not show it, I was very happy that the race organizers had declared that the swim was wetsuit-legal. Earlier in the week, we'd received an email saying the water temp was 80-81 degs, which didn't look good. But a storm the day before the race dumped some rain which probably helped. YAY! Above I'm applying some Body Glide to make my wetsuit easier to put on and take off. After much wriggling and pulling, I was all zipped in but having to stand real tall to breathe. I swear that thing seems to get tighter every time I put it on!

No, actually, I was scanning the crowds looking for fellow blogger Sarah, who was there too doing her first half iron race. I found her near the water's edge along with her husband and some other folks from her tri club. We chatted for a while and she seemed to be as cool as a cucumber.

I was also probably the most calm I'd ever been before a tri seeing no waves breaking, no white caps, no alligator warning signs and buoys that didn't look so far. I told Dave I hoped to finish the swim in ~45 minutes. Honestly, though, I have no clue of my swim pace when I'm swimming in open water. It all depends on the currents, waves, how well I sight, others around me (one time I drafted someone and ended up swimming slower!) and, of course, whether the course distance is accurate.

So I started in the back as I usually do but found myself swimming past people early on. There did seem to be a current making it harder to stay on course on the first two legs of the triangle but what bothered me most was not seeing many purple caps in my wave around me on the last leg. Instead, I saw quite a few green caps from the wave behind me and I thought for sure I was in for another slow swim again. Then I stood up and looked at my watch. 45-something!!!

My tri club coach was right behind me coming out of the water (his wave started 10 minutes later). He yelled at me to keep moving as the guy in front of me started walking. Thanks, Coach!

1.2 mile swim time: 45:27 (2:09/100 yds), nearly a 3 minute PR for me!

To my surprise, there were wetsuit strippers at this race. Had I known that, I would have gotten the arms of my wetsuit off before reaching them. Instead, these two poor young girls spent a minute or so struggling to get the sleeves around my watch and race wristband. Then they spent another minute or so trying to pull off the wetsuit over my big butt. I might have been quicker doing it myself!

But, finally, I got to T1 and saw a most magnificent sight ... lots of bicycles still there around mine :-)

T1 time: 4:15

So now it was onto the hilly 58-mile bike course. Dave and I rode it the weekend before and I figured I'd be in for close to a four hour ride, that is, if I wanted to have any legs left to run on afterward. I didn't even bother wearing my aero helmet. I did get a lot of looks, however, because I was riding my little travel bike. No doubt if there'd been a cute bike division, it would definitely have won that from all the comments I heard the day before the race and during the race.

But this little bike can keep up with its bigger cousins quite well, especially with no bike computer on it. Yes, the bike crash earlier this year still haunts me so I purposefully rode without a computer hoping I'd stop freaking out and hitting the brakes every time I saw 30+ mph on the downhills. The strategy worked well.

However, midway up the biggest hill on the course, Sugarloaf, somehow my chain went off the cassette towards the wheel and got stuck. Uh-oh! Fortunately, I clipped out before falling over. It was easy to fix and I managed to get clipped back into my pedals on the hill and going up again pretty fast. Woo hoo!

But then shortly after making it to the top of Sugarloaf, I felt the water bottle on my down tube resting against my right calf. WTF? I pulled over again and discovered that the top bolt to my bottle cage had gotten loose so that the cage was only being held by the bottom screw. Crap!

Luckily, the bolt was still there as it was being held in place by the water bottle. I couldn't get it back on using my fingers and had to pull out my multi-tool to screw it back in. It took longer than I would have liked but being a low key race, I didn't get too frazzled. I halfway expected to get a flat too since I had one at the end of the ride last week. Nothing else would slow me down, though, except more hills and some wind.

58 mile bike time: 3:27:27 (16.8 mph)

Back in T2, however, I saw there weren't that many bikes back on the racks yet, which made me feel a whole lot better. I made a quick stop into a porta potty and headed out for the run.

T2 time: 3:39

The first couple miles were tough. My glutes and hamstrings were very tight (definitely not used to riding hills!) and it was getting kind of warm, maybe close to 80 degs. I slogged through to where Dave was located at around mile 2 and gave him "the look."

About 2 hours?, he asked. At least, I replied.

But in Hawaii after a 50+ mile bike ride, my legs felt similarly and they got better after a few miles. On the other hand, things could stay a slogfest the whole time as it did at Gulf Coast Tri back in May. Only time will tell ...

At least we had some nice shade along parts of this run course, which made a huge difference, along with 10 degree cooler temps and much lower humidity than at Gulf Coast. The biggest hill was located where there was no shade, however, and, of course, we had to run up it, down it, turnaround and go back up and down it again. Bastards.

But after that (~mile 4) is when my legs got their groove back! I began humming along at probably close to 9-minute miles and passing a fair amount of folks. Later, around miles 9 and 10, a couple guys and one woman passed me but they didn't bother me much since I'd already decided I didn't want to overdo things at this race. They were going way faster than me anyway.

Near the finish, there was a cruel turn in the run course that added another half mile to what I thought I had left. I finally got to the final straightaway and picked up my pace a bit although there was no one in front to catch. Dave was nowhere in sight but I would find out later that he was actually there wearing a pink shirt rather than the orange one he'd had on earlier. Sneaky!

So he caught me smiling at the finish after all. Even though the clock over the finish line was broken, I knew I'd finished in under 6:30 and had had a great race!

Final Race time:
6:23:28, 2/9 F45-49

Swim: 45:27 (2:09/100yd), 5/9
T1: 4:15, 6/9
Bike: 3:27:27 (16.8 mph), 3/9
T2: 3:39, 3/9
Run: 2:02:43 (9:22 pace), 3/9

Maybe I should treat all my races as training races?!

Oh, and Sarah rocked her first half iron tri. Read about her race here!


Bruce said...

Excellent race report with all the pics to go with it. It must be great to be a good runner as you can always make up for any slowness earlier in the race. How about a 70.3 in every state (or so 20 to start with)? I did not realize this race came so close on the heels of the previous one.

TRI Vortex said...

Sweet race! I know you're humble and all and probably didn't notice. But if you follow the line of sight for your bike picture, the guys aren't looking far down enough to be staring at your bike. *cough* they're looking at something else.

RoadBunner said...

Awesome job! I love the travel bike!!

Marathon Maritza said...

your blog posts seem to be race report after race report lately....you are my hero!!!!

Great job!!!!! You are so cool.

Cliff said...

Hey Shirley,

I didn't realize there were hills in florida? I thought the whole state is pancake flat :D

I thought the shot of you putting on body glide you were doing a little dance..haha..congrats on a job well done.

Kevin said...

You are truly a rockstar. Where do you find all the energy to do all that you do?

You continue to amaze me

Shannon said...

I want to be like you when I grow up! You Rock Sista.

Wendy said...

Well raced Shirley! And I completely agree -- the bike is adorable!


As always, you finish with a smile and a positive attitude! Now I know why they call it the Florida CHALLENGE! Sounds brutual. I thought Florida was flat?!

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

That is a cute little bike!

Fun photos too. Nice report. :-)

Rural Girl said...

well, Shirley, you still managed to look great in all these photos as well.
I love the pic of the 3 guys looking at you on the bike. I agree with tri vortex. I'm not sure they were just looking at the bike!

Susan said...

Holy moly!

Congrats ont he swim PR. Awesome! And I am pretty certain you don't have a big butt (not that I've seen it).

And you had your go-go-gadget tool to fix your broken bottle holder. How cool!

This inspires me. Very much!

Anonymous said...

Great job, Shirley! Way to take time off your swim. I agree - it's hard to predict an OWS time with so many variables. Your bike is adorable! Very nice pace on those hills!! I wish I could run like you :-)

Maybe I should treat races like a training day, too. I worked great for you!!

Girl on Top said...

Great job! You're an inspiration. I don't think I can do half of what you did! And awesome on the swim!

*aron* said...

awesome report and such great pics too!!!! congrats on the #2 in AG!!

Kelly said...

Great report! It made me smile the whole time. I need to catch some of your upeat, positive attitude and save it for my races :-).

Runner Leana said...

Awesome!!!!!!! Second in your AG?!! You are fantastic Shirley! Okay, I might be fined for using too many exclamation points from here on out, but way to rock your training race. The picture of you heading out on your run with your tongue out is hilarious!

Petraruns said...

What an amazing report. I think you must put such pressure on yourself because when you relax you just do amazingly... I looked at that bike and thought - is it me or is that small?

Your stories of fixing your bike just frighten me - that's exactly what puts me off. HOw did you learn?

I am never less than impressed with you. Keep it up!

Gotta Run said...

having those issues on the bike could have been a mental monster but not for you!!

S/B/R - all three where STRONG!!

Treating it as a training race did seem to work. Maybe I willl do that for this weeknds race for myself.

oh... and yes your husband was sneaky changing shirt... I love it.

Calyx Meredith said...

Fun race report and great race! I love the first picture of you where you look like your doing a flamenco dance. :D

Maddy said...

Awesome job Shirley!

We drove Sugarloaf Mountain a few weeks ago - that is quite a hill!

You continue to amaze me with your outstanding race performance!

Steve Stenzel said...

Nice job!! Way to go! And NICE place!

I love that you started with the "bad" photos! That's great!!

Tammy said...

Looked like you had alot of fun, I love the pictures, boy I need someone to take pictures so I can put them on my blog hee hee. I have to do winter training :(. it's been very cold here, in the 30's, I missed the fall weather. Tri-s look like alot of fun, not to sure if I could ever do a Tri, but you never know :D.

IrishBlue said...

You're cute even when you're not smiling...no fair!

Wow, that's about all I can say. I'm tired just keeping up with your race reports...lol.

lizzie lee said...

Brave, brave, brave... Amazing, amazing, amazing...What else can I say?

that ...I'll never DO IT...??? Not that brave. I got exhausted and with pain after reading your post....The bike problem stressed me out too...

When you were applying the Body Glide I thought you were dancing some kind of weird dance....


Stef said...

Shirley! I know this comment is kinda late given that Miami Man is coming right up now but you ROCKED IT GIRL! The pictures are great too! That is a smokin' bike time can I borrow it for my race next week?

Seriously, awesome job out there you look like you're having fun!

RBR said...

Good thing you are such an amazingly cool person, because you are so freaking GORGEOUS that, as a chronically insecure woman, I would be forced to hate you. ;o)

You look adorable even in your 'bad' photos. Must be nice.

What a great race report. I particularly LOVE the picture where all the guys are checking out your caboose as you ride by! Yeah, they are NOT looking at your bike. If questioned, I bet they would even remember you were riding a bike.

And, boy, all the hard work you did swimming while rehabing your hamstring sure paid off! 3 min PR that is so AWESOME! Sorry for the novel length comment but there was so much great stuff in this report!

nylisa said...

Fantastic race report! Love the pics!

Smithposts said...

Great race Shirley, 2nd in your age group even though you had a few bicycle challenges. Way to go!!

Hmmm, even your non-smiling pics are good. Glad you clarified the body glide photo. On first glance, I thought you were doing some type of pre-race ritual.

Eileen Swanson said...

Nice job! Cool pics, love 'em all. Woohoo!!

E ;-)

Brent Buckner said...

Great race!

(Clearly, excellent pacing)

PLANET3RRY said...

fixes her own bike...
Does Belly dancing for a pre race warm-up to get wetsuit on...

Excellent! Rock ON!

akshaye said...

Shirley.. that was a fantastic race! You really should do more 'training' races!

p.s. I like Bruce's comment about a 70.3 in each state.

Jade Lady said...

Great photos, esp. the first two!