Sunday, September 19, 2010

From worst to first

I read a fair few triathlon blogs. They're right over there to the right. There are two styles of these blogs: people who are triathletes and people who do triathlons. Of course those are not the same thing. It takes a more than just your first triathlon to feel like you really belong in the sport.

Recently I noticed that I've crossed the divide. I'm no longer trying to become a triathlete, I am one. I'm no longer just "participating" in races, I'm racing. I came across this photo from my first race in Australia a few weeks ago.

That was a tough race. I didn't come DFL there (turns out I beat one kid and one grandma), but I did at others.

Contrast that to this weekend's Duxbury sprint.

It was my last race of the Boston season and a big team race with 14 of us racing for BPC. It's a sprint and given that it was only 6 days after the half ironman, I didn't have high expectations for it. Go out, have fun, then a big team end of season bbq as a reward. I haven't even done much since the half, I took Monday and Tuesday off from training, easy, drill-focused swim on Wednesday, strength on Thursday and rest day Friday. Didn't do a race plan. Riding over to the course the legs didn't feel like they had much in them, so I decide that those 5 miles to the course are actually enough of a warm up, even if they were 2 hours before the race.

We register and they don't mark our calves with our ages, which means out on the course, I can't tell whom I'm really racing. My coach remarks, that just means I have to be faster than everyone.

The swim has got to be the best spectator swim anywhere. We started on the main shore, and swam, along a bridge to the far shore. Spectators could just follow along, walking up the bridge. About 150 yards from shore, you could hear people cheering, it was great. Pushed it out to the shore. I saw a few pink caps ahead of me, but still felt like a solid swim.

Onto the bike, and of course the first thing you do is ride across that same bridge. It's a wooden bridge and about half a mile long, so not an ideal surface for putting on one's bike shoes. The ride was out and back. Not too far in, I get passed by a girl, I try to keep her in my sights. Three miles in, I see one of our coaches, Vic, on his way back in, looking fast. It's fantastic to see my teammates going so well. Just about to the turn around, I see another teammate Jeff, heading back. I wonder if I can catch him. At the turn around, I get passed by another girl, who is really fast. On the way back, I catch back up to the first girl, and she and I and 3 other cyclists, ride back together. Average speed 20 mph, on the nose.

The run is also out across the bridge, which seems to take forever this time around. I focus on picking people off, this includes my teammate Jeff, and pretty soon, I'm heading back toward the bridge. I get passed by one more girl on the run who's pace I just can't match. Strong sprint home, and it's all done.

My coach asks how it went, and I tell her it was ok, I felt pretty good, but that I got passed both on the bike and on the run, but can't know if they were in my age group or not. We head over and check out the boards for results. Nothing, I'm not on there. Oh, wait, they're posting updated results. There's Lauren, there's Christina, there's... me. Oh. My. God. It says I came first. Wait, go look at that again, am I reading that right? I get Patty to look at it with me. Yes, that's right 1st place in the 30-34 year old age group! Woo hoo! Hugs and high fives all around. Plus we've got more podiums on the team, Vic took first, Robyn took first, Christina took second and Jeff took second. Seriously solid showing. We all hang around for the award ceremony, which is painfully disorganized. Christina and Jeff both receive hideous water bottles instead of medals.

First time on the podium and first place out of 26! Looking at the official results, I had the 4th fastest swim, but passed 2 girls in transition. My bike was the second fastest in the age group, but because of the solid swim and transition, I was already in first coming in off the bike. 5th fastest run, but again, I'd put enough of a gap in, that I maintain my first place position. Oh, and, because this race is so late in the season, it qualifies me for age group national champs next year in Vermont. That was my goal for next season, so I'm gonna have to start thinking about not just going, but having a good showing there.


jnaylor September 19, 2010 at 3:59 PM  

Well, you forgot to mention that you never did "pick off" your teammate Jeff, who finished ahead of you. And got a hideous water bottle!!

Dave September 24, 2010 at 1:25 AM  

Laura, superb post. You look SO good!! Super-congratulations on your first-place finish! おめでとうございます!

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