Sunday, July 5, 2015

Race the Bridge Race Recap

On June 14th I raced the Race the Bridge Olympic Triathlon in Louisville Kentucky. It was my second Olympic distance triathlon and I had a blast!

I'd never been to the race sight before so Saturday afternoon I headed down to Eva Bandman park to check out the transition area & Swim start. The park was dead empty which was nice. I was shocked by how low the river was, though, and a little nervous about the debris and mud on the riverbank.
Eva Bandman - This is a cyclocross park!
Ohio River& swim start
Transition Area
That night we went to a Louisville Bats (the Reds affiliate) baseball game. It was super hot and we had to walk a long way from the car. I could've killed Hubz for this because I was doing an Oly in the morning BUT i just decided it was an early warm up. Each person is allowed to bring one unopened bottle of water to the park so I had Hubz bring in one and had two. Not quite beer, but I finished them both.

Race morning I woke up around 4:30 for an 7:45 start. Transition closed at 7 so I wanted to make sure I got up and got all of my necessaries out of the way. I had a bagel and peanut butter and began to hydrate. It was looking like a hot day! Luckily I'd already laid out all of my gear and stored my bike in my car so the morning was pretty easy. All I had to do was wake up Hubz and crawl in the car. I drank an iced coffee on the way to the race site, which has become a bit of a ritual for me. I need my coffee!

Hubz was doing drop off and mom and dad were meeting me there for the race. Hubz could only get me to the front of the park so I had to take everything out and walk my bike about 100 yds to transition. I put in my headphones and tried to relax. When I got to transition I was shocked that my rack was the very front one! I know a lot of people covet these spots, but I was astounded that I was next to some of the fast chicks. Luckily I felt better because the girl across from me had never done a triathlon before. First complaint of the morning was how cramped Transition was. They had plenty of space in the parking lot for transition but not enough racks. We were all crammed in really tight and I barely had room for my towel. Oh well, it ended up being ok but I was nervous about hurting some of these super fast bikes!

I ate my honey stinger waffle (my new faves) and got body marked. After some poor communication I met up with mom and dad near the swim start. It was great to see them! They've really supported me through all of my crazy endeavors and any time that they're at a race it just makes me feel more at ease. At 7:15 I think they did the pre-race rules - though no one heard them - and then at 7:30 the gun went off for the first wave!

The Swim - 37:57 (42 min/mi)
Each wave had to walk out to a pre-set buoy to wait for their gun. To say it was muddy would be an understatement. There were places where the mud was over my knees. The shock of it was worse than anything but the temperature was practically perfect and I got to the buoy. When the gun went off I was able to get out without getting kicked or pushed and I was on my way.
We started out swimming up river, which is sort of north east. Sighting was impossible as the sun was just coming up. The small buoys were light yellow and impossible to see since they looked just like the sun. At one point I followed a group of swimmers way way left. I even passed a kayak! Ugh. The swim just felt long. I finally got to the orange turnaround buoy and headed back down river. I'd been told that with the right currant the downriver section was super easy. I did not find this to be the case. It was choppy! I had to swim like an ocean swim, diving down below the waves and then coming up for a few strokes. I definitely didn't feel like it was easier. Sighting was a lot easier though so I just focused on strokes. I counted sets of ten and kept my eye on the docks. Finally I was back to the start buoy. I swam until my fingers touched the bottom which was just about where we'd started from. Unfortunately, it was still a ways away from the swim out. I stood up and ran, then did sort of a dolphin dive variation until I got right to the steps. I headed up the dock and to T1!

T1 2:40
Based on the rocky shoreline I'd left some crappy flip flops out to stand on until our swim wave went. Well my mom picked them up and set them out for me when I headed up the carpet into transition. I'm so glad she did because the hardest part of transition was how dirty my feet were! I have this thing about having crap on my feet in my shoes. I hate it. Beyond hate it. So having the flip flops was a help. I don't recall feeling like I took too long in transition. I fought with my hydrapak a little bit (*more on this later), but nothing major. As I was leaving the girl next to me - a speedster - told me to take it easy on the bike course. She said there were some serious turns and people don't take them seriously. That meant a lot coming from her so I decided to be extra cautious the first lap. I hit the mount line and was out onto the bike course!

The Bike 24.28 miles, 1:38:37  (Avg. 15.1 mph)

You may recall that at this point in my cycling journey I hadn't quite figured out how to drink from my water bottles on the bike. Underhand mounting, saddle mounting - nothing worked. So in my last pre-race ride I'd worn my hydrapak and it worked great. I figured I'd use my hydrapak for Muncie so this was a test race.

The bike course was a 6 mile loop through downtown Louisville with the sprint race doing 2 laps and the Olympic doing 4. It was a tricky course because of all of the sharp curves and narrow turns. Also, there were obviously two turnarounds. If you'll recall from previous posts two of my 3 falls on the bike were in turnarounds. My plan: stop the bike and turn it around if need be. What did I care? I was going to get through this ride confidently and without crashing. On the way out plenty of people were already on the course and it was a zoo. I think there were some that were going too fast for the course, passing wildly on turns. The first loop was mostly just getting used to the course itself and the turns. My first loop was a measly 14.6mph as I got used to everything. The biggest problem on the first loop was the realization that my Hydrapak wasn't working! I played with the nozzle and everything - no water came out. Now it was starting to heat up and the sun showed no signs of easing up. I knew I had to get fluids or I'd be a dead man like at Tri Fest. After the first loop there was a straightaway that was flat and even. I told myself, "Gotta drink or get of the road." I evened out my pedals and reached down for my bottle. To my amazement I got it! I almost fell of my bike from the shock. I gulped some down and then kept on.

The last three laps were relatively uneventful. I focused on really pushing the straightaways since the random turns forced me to slow down so much. I kept a steady 15.1 for those laps. I also managed to keep drinking, taking in fluids on each straightaway. I also managed to keep my cadence really high at 88rpm average, which really excited me. I had a legitimately good bike!

After the fourth lap I headed back into transition. Since it was the only road out of the park it was a little bit chaotic with runners heading out (and in) and spectators and finishers walking to their cars. I put the breaks on and focused on getting back to transition without incident.

T2 2:02
I racked my bike and got my hydrapak off pretty quick. Of course, the second I got my hydrapak off all of the water started coming out of the nozzle! Wtf. Oh well. I got my socks and shoes on and headed out through the other side of transition. The heat was intense now and my garmin must've been feeling it too. The damn 405cx - my best friend and arch nemesis - was frozen. I'd planned on using my 5:1 run:walk ratios that I'd pre-set but apparently I wouldn't have a garmin at all. I cursed (a lot) and got out onto the run course.

Run 10k, 1:11:48 (11:35 min/mi)
My legs felt surprisingly fresh after the bike. This was the one time I enjoyed the dirt road heading out to the run course too. The dirt felt good on my feet and it wasn't a big shock to the knees. The run course was a loop too - one for the sprint and 2 for the olympic. One of the nice things about a loop system for the run is that I got to see all of the landsharks in various parts of the run. Most of them were way ahead of me but it was still awesome to see a fellow shark and exchange positive words. At this point the course was really hot and there wasn't really any shade anywhere on the run. They had two aid stations set up and the first one didn't have anything when I got there. I walked a lot in the first loop and then dedicated myself to my run:walk intervals. After the first few it was pretty clear the heat was excessive so I switched to 4:2 run:walk. This really worked for me and allowed me enough time to get the right amount of water and dump a lot over my head.

The second loop was really difficult for slow people reasons. Last few people on the course so there wasn't as much spectator support. Also the park we were using had a lot more people on it now and at one point I had a family of 8 just totally push me off the sidewalk. If I hadn't been so tired I would've chewed that mom out. Oh well. I pushed on in my intervals and kept chugging along.

Finally I was back into eva bandman and headed for the finish line. A nice guy with an RV asked if I wanted some hose water over my head. Oh boy did I! He showered me without getting my feet wet, that dear man, and off I ran to the finish. At the last turn I saw my mom and she was cheering so loudly, it made me so happy. I turned and went under the finish banner. My dad was right on the other side!  I finished my second olympic in 3:33:05!

Post Race Thoughts
I really like the olympic distance. I guess it is kind of the 10k of triathlon. Long enough to be an endurance race but short enough to not want to die the whole time. Not to mention, I beat my time at TriFest by almost 28 minutes! Obviously I ran a lot more of the run course, so that was an instant improvement. But I improved my bike time by a lot. That's what a flat course will do for you I guess.

My biggest complaint about the race was how poorly run it was. I was really upset when I finished and found that there was no food or water left. It was 90+ Degrees and they didn't have any water. That's criminal. It was a relatively expensive race (TriFest was $35, this was $95) and I felt like I didn't get any support or extras from the company that put it on.

But the pros? It's right down the street from me and an opportunity to OWS in a difficult venue. Can't beat that. I'm super happy with my performance and it gave me a lot of confidence going into Muncie!

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