Monday, July 9, 2007

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (aka The Women's Tri Race Report)

It began as any other race morning would...the anxious check of the clock at 2:30am, 3:45am and 4:30am.....(I always have the worry that my alarm won't go off when it is supposed to...don't you hate that?)... and finally, the alarm going off at 4:45am.

I followed standard Imperial procedure before jumping to hyper-speed and got rid of the trash on my star destroyer. Then showered to wake up and coax my crazy curls into some semblance of a ponytail so my 'fro would fit under my bike helmet. Picked up my gear bag, loaded the bike and headed to Shorey's for a carpool down to the Texas Ski Ranch.

I then followed my typical pre-race plan which includes hitting the potty at least 2 times before the National Anthem and then one time after that before my wave swims off, wandering around somewhat aimlessly taking in the atmosphere (read: checking out the competition) and getting my game face on. Note that this did not include any of Panther's pre-race instructions for warm-ups (except I did get in the water and paddle around a bit)...which as I was properly chastised for later and so, I (raising my right hand), Dionn Schaffner hereby promise to include in the next that was probably a contributor to the "ugly" factor mentioned below.

After identifying two Ironwomen in our age group (one complete with a smokin' Cervelo and Disc wheels) and an old-time nemesis, Tracy Lord (yes, that is really her name...), I knew that it was going to be a short but tough race and I'd better get my shit together and focus.

The Good:
The Rogue Women's Tri was a GREAT event between all the great volunteers (THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!), race site decorations and accouterments (changing tents and showers!! although I ended up deck changing in transition while chatting with Shorey and Panther... I don't think Panther noticed though...), and waiters handing out Mimosas. Does it get any better??

For me, the best part of the race was that I picked up some speed on the bike portion this time. I DID follow Panther's instructions and pushed as hard of a gear as I could and keep it at (well around) 90rpm's. I employed the "Just on more Click" technique and really saw where in the past I'd been settling in to a gear thinking that was as big as I could turn, but in actuality, just one more click plus a little extra push to get the cadence back up and then I'm turning the same cadence but a bigger gear! It really paid off for me this race. At the rookie (same course), my bike pace was 18.5. At this race it was 20.4!! Which was the 4th fastest in my age group! Wahooo! I'll totally take it!

The Bad:
All I know, is thank goodness I had a good swim, because as I'm pickin' em up and puttin' them down on the run....I started to get that know the one where something or someone really scary is right behind don't want to turn around and look, but you can just feel them there...lurking...getting ready to pounce?

Enter Tracy Lord, Texas Iron. Just after the turnaround, I could totally hear someone settle in just behind me, matching my pace. Since I hadn't passed Tracy going the other way on the run, I was pretty sure it was her. Just then Shorey was coming the other direction and I silently mouthed to her as I pointed over my shoulder "Is that her, is it Tracy??". Shorey gave me that ever so slight raising of the eyebrow as she glanced past my shoulder. Dammit. And then not 15 seconds later, we passed a Texas Iron going the other way who yelled, "Way to go Tracy...keep it up!". BUSTED! The jig was up. She knew I knew she was there...and now, it's ON!

Knowing that her cover was busted, she pulled up beside me and we ran stride for stride until just before the last incline before turning left into the ranch. I knew this one was going to be down to the wire. I could hear her breathing and knew that she was working just as hard as I was. I was comforted somewhat...and started strategizing. Ok, so I don't have to be fast, I just have to be faster than her, right?

So, as we started up the hill, I actually slowed down the pace, figuring she would match me...and she did. About half way up the hill, I did a quick systems check. Calves - not cramping. check. Quads, tight, but not twitching. check. Fuel gage - not empty. Double Check.

We crested the hill as Ruth yelled out, "Alright Dionn! Stay on the mats, there's less mud!" Check.

The other thing I like about this race course is making a left turn into the final stretch. It takes me back to my track days, where you made that last curve before hitting the final sprint on the straight away home. It always felt like when you take a car fast into a kinda lean into it....imagining the road banking like on a race track....and you punch the accelerator after you hit the apex and go shooting fast out into the straight away...

FIRE YOUR GUNS! So I hit the left turn, leaned into it and fired my guns! I used my long legs to hit the mats, stay out of the mud, and pick my spots to get firm footing. I pranced my way through the mud, hit the sidewalk and let it all go.

As I came through the crowd near the finishing line, I heard Adam saying my name, but more importantly not saying anything about it being a close finish (which he usually comments on when there are folks trying to beat each other at the finish).... but I didn't let up. I kept my foot on the gas, HARD...until I crossed the finish line....ALONE!! WAHOOOOO! Turns out, I put 5 seconds on her from the top of the hill to the finish.

We joked and talked about it afterwards, took pictures with her kids, etc. But I know she's out to get me....

The Ugly:
Two words for ya.... MY RUN. Although I managed (somehow) to beat Tracy, my run pace was abysmal. 8:33. That's just ridiculous. That's not far off my half-marathon pace from the fall...WTH??

Truth be told, I have not been putting in the running miles as I should (as Panther was so kind enough to point out...well, that's his job as Coach...) ... and I have no one to blame except myself.

(Raising right hand...again) I, Dionn Schaffner, do solemnly swear to run MINIMALLY 25 miles each week. So, now armed with the Camp Punishment CD downloaded to my iPod...I am at this moment heading out to begin the fulfillment of said task. (well as soon as I spell check the blog entry...)

Overally, it was a good race. I was really bummed at first because I didn't PR on the course...however after talking with a bunch of folks, the swim was staked out a little longer than the 300 before...and looking at everyone's swim times, it is clear that the swim was definitely longer. So just looking at my bike/run times combined, I was 4 secs faster at this race vs. the Rookie. Still wouldn't have beaten my 1 hour goal that kinda sucks. I really have to get my run together.

Here are my final stats:

Swim: 4th 6:33.03
Bike: 4th 35:22.40 (20.4mph)
Run: 8th 17:01.60 (8:31) YUCK

Age Group Place: 4th
Overall: 12th


Erin said...

We are in the same boat, Dionn. Let's gruel through the running together - you game?

Great race, though - 12th place is nothing ugly!

Shorey said...

you did a great job!

Dionn said...

Erin - I'm totally game! Let's do it!